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Long Distance Caregiving

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Long Distance Caregiving - A Growing Phenomenon

By: Liza Berger, Staff Writer
(Page 2 of 3)

Services in the community to consider include: meal delivery, adult day care, in-home aides, transportation, help with Medicare claims and telephone check-ins. A long-term care facility, such as an assisted living facility or nursing home, may also be an option. The Administration on Agingís Elderare Locator helps find aging services in a particular community. To find out more, call 800-677-1116, or visit www.eldercare.gov. (More resources for long-distance caregivers are at the end of the story.)

A geriatric care manager (GCM) may be just the person a long-distance caregiver is looking for to help assess a loved oneís needs and coordinate services. Often trained as gerontologists, social workers or nurses, they can suggest care options, provide referrals to local resources and help guide you through the complex system of long-term care.
 
A Team Effort
 
One of the most essential parts of caring for a parent long-distance is to develop a core group of people you can rely on to help care for your parent. That team could include nearby siblings, other family members or close friends; neighbors who know your relative well; those people your loved one sees often, such as a housekeeper; and care professionals. Make sure to keep a list of names, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses for all the people on your team.
It may be helpful to hold a conference with siblings and others to discuss each personís caregiving role. This may be done face-to-face, on the phone or through e-mails. Family conflicts often erupt when a parent becomes sick. In such a situation, it may be helpful to bring in a therapist or objective third-party to mediate family conferences.

Itís also important to involve the loved one in the decision-making process. 

Documentation
 
Part of the information-gathering process is keeping a family memberís important documents and medical information at hand. This information includes a loved oneís date of birth, Medicare and/or Medicaid number, Social Security number and health insurance information. (Consider copying and laminating these key documents and keeping them in your Care Notebook.)

Itís important that caregivers tend to their own physical and emotional health. Recognize what you can and canít do. Forgive yourself for not being perfect, according to the ďLong-Distance CaregivingĒ guide. Donít become isolated from your friends, families and activities. Support groups may offer a way for caregivers to share their feelings with others who are in similar situations. If a caregiver is experiencing signs of depression, sleeplessness or feelings of helplessness, it may be a good idea to seek help, experts say.

It takes a special person to be a caregiver. Those who are doing it should recognize that they are doing a valuable, loving and caring actóand for this they should be proud.

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