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Help for Long Distance Caregivers

Help for long distance caregivers
According to a Home Instead Senior Care survey, 45% of American adults who plan to care for an aging relative in the next two to four years live one or more hours away.

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April 12, 2010

Caregiving responsibilities can occur without warning, so without proper planning, it can create a crisis situation, particularly if you live far away.

Living far away from your senior in need is a problem for many caregivers. According to a Home Instead Senior Care survey, 45% of American adults who plan to care for an aging relative in the next two to four years live one or more hours away. Of those, just six percent have shortened the distance between them to make caregiving easier.

Of those currently caring for an older relative, 23% live more than one hour away and of this group, 20% live two-plus hours away. Some families find themselves several states away from their senior loved one, making a long drive or plane ride the only choice.

"It is not uncommon for family members who are family caregivers to live in different cities or states, making travel time and expense a major issue," says Paul Hogan, president and founder of Home Instead Senior Care. "Providing assistance to an aging relative can become a full-time job for many, so the addition of travel can compound the stress and exhaustion."

If moving closer to the senior or having the senior move closer to you is not an option, the following tips may make your long distance caregiving easier:

  • Get to know the senior's neighbors when you visit - identify one or two trustworthy neighbors that can look in on your elderly relative - call them once a week for an update.
  • Get to know the local mail carrier - if he/she sees that the mail has not been brought in, he can alert you or a neighbor. Some post offices have special programs set up to handle this type of "elder watch" issue, so make sure to sign up your relative.
  • Get to know your relative's friends - they can be eyes and ears when you aren't around.
  • Create a list of your senior's medical issues/medications, doctor's names, and legal documents in case you need to access them in an emergency.
  • Keep a copy of your relatives Yellow Pages at your own house or bookmark his/her local Yellow Pages on your web browser (www.yellowpages.com) so you have access to their local business numbers, etc. in his/her area.
  • Investigate non-medical senior services in the area, such as transportation, community centers, professional care/companionship, etc.
  • Set up professional caregiving services to provide daily or occasional assistance for every day tasks, such as grocery shopping, medication reminders, running errands, meal preparation, etc. One of the most important roles of this professional caregiver is to provide companionship, as well as be a regular visitor who can monitor any issues that may be cropping up (health, safety, etc.). This person is the "eyes and ears" for the family who lives far away.

Putting this list into action can ease your long distance caregiving stress and provide support and care for your loved one.

Some caregivers find that their senior is initially resistant to outside help. But when shown the benefits, many enjoy having non-medical, professional caregivers in their home.

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. October 10, 2011 at 11:09 am | Posted by Need to Care for Your Loved One? Live in a Different State? How to Make it Work! — Senior Care Bradenton

    [...] Help for the long distance caregiver (caregiverstress.com) [...]

    Reply

  2. October 10, 2011 at 10:24 am | Posted by Need to Help Grandma Who Lives Far Away? Resources that can Help! — Home Instead Auburn, Alabama

    [...] Help for the long distance caregiver (caregiverstress.com) [...]

    Reply

  3. January 4, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Posted by Beth

    Took the assessment test on stress levels and I think there should be a broader range of travel time categories. There is a rather huge difference between a 30 minute drive and a 2 hour drive. Mine is ~1.5-2 hours each way ... if only it were 30 minutes!!

    Reply

  4. July 27, 2010 at 12:10 am | Posted by Susan Davis - GreenPointCoach

    Excellent article. The caregivers from Home Instead supplied the missing piece in caring for my mom & dad in their last few years. I lived 400 miles away, and my sister only a few miles away, but having the caregivers there for conversation, companionship, and to relieve my folks & my sister of some household tasks made the quality of life for all of us much, much better. The caregivers really CARED, and knowing that really did relieve the stress on everyone in the family.

    Reply

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