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Tips for Long-Distance Caregiving

March 15, 2020

According to AARP in 2019, “more than 1 in 10 family caregivers live at least an hour away from their aging or ailing family member,” and many may be even further. If you face the possibility of becoming a long-distance caregiver, know that you don't have to do this alone.

While we strive to provide consistent, personalized care, we know that we can’t take the place of a loving relative. Senior Home Companions supports long-distance caregivers, assisting family members in playing an active role.

Here are a few long-distance caregiving tips:

  • If you are not the primary caregiver, give the primary caregiver a break. Plan times to go stay with your loved one so the primary caregiver can have a vacation. Respite care can also give primary caregivers some time off.
  • Manage your loved one’s medical bills or records. This is much simpler with automated bill pay and other current technology. Consolidate vital information (contact numbers, financial info, medical instructions, etc.) in one place, such as a secure online document.
  • Manage services your loved one may need. This might include arranging for in-home help or care. Watch for signs that your aging loved one may need more help. Signs might include withdrawal from activities or decreased care of their home or self.
  • Have regular family meetings. Technology has a way of nearly eliminating the miles, thanks to video chatting apps like Facetime and Skype. Discuss concerns and goals; divide duties.
  • Try to understand what your loved one’s going through. Learn as much as you can about the illness, condition or issues. This will allow proactive measures eliminating potential problems and issues. This information can also be recorded in your secure online document when sharing duties between caregivers.
  • Plan for emergencies. Unexpected trips to be with your loved one may come up that will require time and money. If necessary, talk to your employer about the Family and Medical Leave Act.
  • Most important, keep in touch, regularly and often. Whether it’s texting, phone calls, videos, emails or good old-fashioned snail mail, you can make the miles disappear by letting your loved one know you’re thinking about him/her.

You can find even more tips and in-depth information about long-distance caregiving from the National Institute on Aging, the Mayo Clinic, or you can reach out to Senior Home Companions and our Family Matters service. We can come alongside you and your family members to help you explore the topics that are difficult to approach, such as living arrangements, financial issues and legal relationships.