Long distance caregiving brings some unique challenges only because of the distance involved; otherwise, the issues and challenges are the same as they are for any other caregiver. However, there are some hints that can make the caregiving experience easier.
It’s important to remember that you can’t do it all at once. Take one step at a time, and remember that you do not need to do it alone. Being far away doesn’t mean that you can’t be a primary caregiver; it just means it takes more energy and patience. If you can’t be the primary caregiver, your role may be that of the person who is able to offer emotional support and respite to the primary caregiver.
One of the first things you will need to do is gather information about your loved one and about the resources available in the community. Try to build a network in your loved one’s community and stay in touch with them on a regular basis. It may be helpful for you to hire a geriatric care manager (GCM) to help coordinate services. These are knowledgeable professionals, usually a nurse or social worker, who specialize in geriatrics.
Each time you visit, assess the safety issues and check that medications and meals are being administered and eaten. Assess whether your loved one is at risk for being taken advantage of financially by scam artists and door-to-door salesmen or telephone marketers.
For each concern that arises, there is an answer and someone who can help you. The key is to know what resources are available and to ASK FOR HELP. You really don’t need to do it all alone.
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