One segment of the caregiver population that gets overlooked is the long-distance caregiver. We don’t all live in the same town as our loved one – or even the same state! Juggling the responsibilities of long-distance caregiving is stressful. But you are not alone.
There are approximately 3.3 million long-distance caregivers, and that number is expected to double over the next 15 years. Long-distance caregivers spend an average of four hours traveling to their loved one and spend 35 hours each month caregiving. We have four tips to help you manage your caregiving duties with less stress.
Tips to Help Ease the Stress of Long-Distance Caregiving
Build a Local Caregiving Team
Enlist friends, neighbors, local relatives, and home health care workers to help out in your absence. A neighbor may be able to check in on your loved one and report any potential problems. Church or community service groups may be willing to pitch in to help with yard work or small home repairs. Local relatives or home health aides may be able to accompany your loved one to doctor appointments.
Stay Connected With Technology
Video chat technology, such as FaceTime and Skype allows you to not only talk with your loved one but also see them note any changes to their physical appearance or surroundings. Many physicians now offer telehealth options that could allow you to attend appointments remotely. Video monitoring services, smart home systems, and personal safety monitors can help you keep on eye on your loved one even from afar. There are also caregiving apps that help you manage caregiving needs, like our WholeCare Connect App.
Do What You Can From Where You Are
You may not be able to attend every doctor visit, but you can review and prioritize medical bills. You can help keep a symptom journal and compile a list of questions for the physician. You may not be there to prepare every meal, but you can email your loved one healthy recipes or enroll them in a meal delivery service.
Have a Plan
Communicate with your local caregiving team about what steps to take in case of an emergency. Identify with all team members who will be responsible for accompanying your loved one to the hospital? Make sure your loved one’s health care proxy and living will documents are accessible and in order. Make sure all emergency contact information is up-to-date.