Tips for Long-Distance Caregivers: How to Maintain the Health and Happiness of Your Loved One

by Claire Wentz of Caring from Afar

Do you live far away from your elderly parent? If you’re a long-distance caregiver to your senior loved one, you might feel stressed by the responsibility of making sure they’re happy, healthy, and well cared for. You want to do everything to maintain their well-being, but living far away from your loved one adds a lot of extra challenges. Instead of getting discouraged, follow these tips for providing the best care.



Scheduling Doctor Visits

If you live in another city or state and don’t see your loved one every week, take the time to learn as much as possible about their health, and schedule doctor appointments during your visits so you’ll have a clear picture of your loved one’s health. Understanding their health is the best way to anticipate their future needs and prevent a crisis.


Collecting All the Paperwork

If you’re caring for an aging parent in another city, make sure you have access to their medical records and have legal permission to access their financial and medical information. Collect all the appropriate paperwork in one folder so you’ll know where to find it. If you’re sharing caring responsibilities with siblings, consider putting all this information in a secure online document so you can all access the relevant material. Include important information such as social services numbers, medical information, financial concerns, and contact numbers for other caregivers and friends.


Planning Your Visit

Your to-do list while visiting your loved one can seem long, so plan ahead and make sure you have time to do as much as you can. Plan to visit the doctor and look after the house but be sure to set aside time to go for coffee, watch a movie, buy a new outfit, or do a fun project. Make sure you schedule time for some fun activities, and don’t make your whole visit about caregiving. Set realistic expectations around what you can accomplish, and leave the rest for next time.


Stay in the Loop

If you’re sharing caregiving responsibilities with other family members, make sure everyone is in the loop and has up-to-date information. Doctors and assisted living staff are happy to have conference calls with all caregivers to make sure you’re all on the same page. You can also ask a family friend who lives close by to check on your loved one and provide an accurate description of how they are doing.


Making Sure Your Loved One Is Safe

When you’re a long-distance caregiver, you spend a lot of time worrying about your loved one’s health and safety. Encourage your loved one to use a smartphone so they can reach you whenever and wherever they need to. You can use smartphone technology to share location information, so you can know where your loved one is and easily find out if they’re safe. You can also use a medical alert system that will send notifications if anything is wrong or if your loved one has had an accident or fall. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that they’re safe, even when you’re in another city or state.


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If you’re a long-distance caregiver, take some time to find resources in your loved one’s city, such as local senior programs to help your loved one maintain a social life and avoid loneliness. Look for a senior center or a local library where they can meet friends, and collect resources and information on assisted living centers that offer more care. Finally, don’t forget to look after yourself and maintain your own health and well-being while you provide care to your elderly loved one.

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