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Long Distance Caregiving

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Long Distance Caregiving: Assessing Needs

By: Jennifer Bradley, Staff Writer
(Page 1 of 4)

It is easy for most people to notice when a loved one is slipping, such as in their declining care in appearance, personal hygiene, home organization, etc. For the long-distance caregiver, these little hints suggesting a need for assistance are harder to detect.

Many times a visit can be emotionally charged and consist only of spending the limited, quality time together. It is essential, however, for a long-distance caregiver to be practical and take care of the caregiving “business” while visiting, to establish support for after they’re gone. In this article, learn how to make the most of visits, see the warning signs, and rely on “substitute” eyes and ears while away from an aging loved one. 


While visiting a loved one, caregivers should arrive prepared to take care of bills, and other standard tasks. In addition, they must take time to meet with their loved one’s health providers, such as physicians, specialists, etc. Lawyers, financial professionals are also good resources for family members. They may have noticed irrational requests/behaviors from their client which can be relayed to the caregiver.

Caregivers should not forget to have talks with local friends and family who see their loved one on a regular basis. All such conversations are critical to establishing any changes in a person’s behavior. These people are on the front line and the best resources for a long-distance caregiver.

While relying on others is important, seeing changes firsthand will confirm and validate for a caregiver if a loved one is in need of more assistance. The old saying is “absence makes the heart grow fonder” and while that is usually true, for long-distance caregivers, absence can also make the eyes and ears grow keener. Subtle changes are usually more pronounced when a person is not with the other on a daily basis.


Is there food in the refrigerator? Is it spoiled? Is the person eating regular meals?

What is the condition of the inside and outside of the home? Has it changed?

Are the bills paid? Are there piles of unopened mail?

Do friends and relatives visit regularly?

What is the person’s appearance like? Is the person bathing and grooming?

Is the person still able to drive safely?

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