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Long Distance Caregiving

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Long Distance Caregiver - Challenges and Solutions

By: Helen Hunter, ACSW, CMSW

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  • Anxiety - at having to rush back and forth to visit and manage care from a geographical distance, and not knowing what tomorrow will bring

  • Frustration - since you can’t be there all the time

  • Anger - at the whole situation

  • Fear - of the unknown

Often, adult children are also faced with a demanding relative who wants to know why you just can’t drop “everything” and spend time caring for them.

What can adult children do to be better aware of and be able to manage care for their older relative when there is a physical distance between them? The following strategies might be utilized:

  • If there is a neighbor or close friend who lives near to the older relative, entrust them to check up and visit on a regular basis. Make sure that you are contacted if there are any serious changes that occur.

  • Make contacts with formal services that are appropriate with the older person’s care. These services might include visiting nurses, senior centers, adult day care or a meals program. Keep in regular contact with these agencies and make sure that the older relative is receiving the care that is needed.

  • Keep in regular contact with the older relative’s physician. Call and speak to the physician directly. If you feel comfortable, have the physician send you regular, updated notes on the visits and tests that are administered.

  • Hire a private care manager. There are professionals throughout the country who are trained and experienced in the assessment, coordination, monitoring and direct service delivery of services to the elderly and their families. Many people hire private care managers to serve as their “eyes and ears” in relation to the status of their older relative’s condition. Private care managers can also assist families with implementing and monitoring a long-term care plan. Family members are relieved to know that someone is watching over their loved one, and is keeping them informed if a problem arises.

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