10 Strategies and Tips for Long-Distance Caregiving
If you live far away from a senior loved one — in another state or even another country — you know how difficult it is to handle caregiving responsibilities while juggling travel time, expenses, work, family commitments, and other obligations.
How Can Long-Distance Family Caregivers Be Most Effective?
Research shows that family members who provide long-distance care are significantly more likely to report emotional distress and “caregiver burnout” than those who live closer to their care recipients. Partnering with a Visiting Angels caregiver can provide family members with the peace of mind knowing a trusted professional is close at hand to help.
If you are a long-distance primary caregiver, here are 10 tips and strategies to help you provide the in-home assistance your loved one needs:
- Make a care plan in advance
If you live far from an older loved one who is living independently, you should talk with them and other family members about how to handle care arrangements. A proactive approach can help you identify which Visiting Angels home care location to call and what to do if your loved one needs assistance quickly.
- Recognize when in-home care is needed
Long-distance family caregivers can have difficulty recognizing when a parent needs in-home care. Don’t be afraid to contact friends, neighbors, or others to ask if they notice any worrisome changes in your loved one’s behavior. Also, be aware of “red flags” your loved one may casually mention over the phone. Tell-tale signs that professional in-home care is needed may include:
- Challenges with diet, shopping, and nutrition
- Difficulty cleaning or maintaining their home
- Experiencing a fall or other accident at home
- Forgetting to take medications
- Missing or forgetting appointments
- No longer socializing or leaving home regularly
- Not bathing, dressing, or putting on makeup
- Discuss caregiving responsibilities
If your loved one needs help at home, meet with family members and non-medical care providers to discuss your loved one’s needs. Discuss your Find ways to complement each other’s strengths and agree ahead of time on who will be responsible for which tasks. Ask how you can assist if you decide to hire a professional in-home caregiver.
- Have contacts who can keep you informed
Ask friends and neighbors to check in on your senior loved one regularly to ensure everything is okay.
- Know the signs of elder abuse and neglect
As a long-distance caregiver, knowing the signs of elder abuse and neglect can help you keep your loved one safe. Hiring a qualified home care provider from a reputable, professional agency such as Visiting Angels will go a long way toward preventing elder abuse. Also, watch for signs such as mood changes, different spending or banking habits, increased isolation, unexplained injury, disheveled appearance, bed sores, or similar preventable conditions during visits, phone calls, or video chats.
- Provide respite care for the primary family caregiver
If you live far away, you won’t be available to regularly help your loved one around the house. However, respite care services can be ideal when you need brief assistance in caring for your loved one.
- Evaluate your loved one’s living space
Determine if your parent or loved one’s living space is appropriate for their needs and condition. By working closely with a homecare professional, you can help your loved one stay safe and reduce the risk of falls at home. Visiting Angels provides a complete home care assessment at your loved one’s residence.
- Make the most out of your visits
Visiting a long-distance loved one can be time-consuming, expensive, and challenging to plan. However, visits — even if a few times a year — are an ideal time to check up on their well-being. In-home caregivers can handle many daily household tasks, so you can make the most of your visit to enjoy each other’s company.
- Be an information coordinator
While a professional caregiver may be occupied with your loved one’s day-to-day needs, you may be better equipped to work on long-term needs, such as legal, medical, and financial paperwork that your senior can’t manage. Creating and sharing documents with other family members can keep everyone in the loop to ensure proper care happens.
- Plan for emergencies
In an emergency, being prepared can make all the difference in the world. Creating and sharing a plan for emergencies can be a lifesaver – literally.
Visiting Angels Provides Experienced Long-Distance Care
While you may be unable to provide “hands-on” support for your senior, Visiting Angels can step in and surround your older loved one with the compassionate care they need and deserve.
Whether your senior needs in-home care now or you are researching future options, contact your loved one’s local Visiting Angels office to set up a free consultation to learn about long-distance home care options.