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Long-distance caregiving

10 November 2017

If you live more than an hour away from the person whom you are caring for, you are probably a long-distance caregiver. You can take many steps to be an effective caregiver despite the distance. For example:

  • Compile notes about the health of your loved one and their financial and legal situation. Include contact numbers, insurance information, account numbers and other important details.
  • Research the illness that your loved one is living with and their treatment. This will help you understand what they are going through, the evolution of the disease, what you can do to prevent certain crises, and how to help manage the disease. It could also make it easier to talk to your loved one’s doctors.
  • Stay in touch with your loved one’s health network to stay informed about changes in their health.
  • Stay in touch, and if needed, seek help from your loved one’s friends and neighbors. Ask your loved one who they are the most comfortable with, and ask these people to check up on your loved one every so often.
  • Contact regional organizations for help in finding local resources.
  • Plan for emergencies
  • Keep in touch. Set time for phone calls, video chats with your loved one, or e-mail conversations.

Even so, many long-distance caregivers feel guilty because they feel they are not doing enough or not spending enough time with their loved ones. If you feel guilty, remember that you are doing your best. Try to make the most of your visits with your loved one. Identify what your loved one needs. Before visiting them, talk to them about the tasks you might be able to do during your visit. Ask your loved one if you can accompany them at a doctor’s appointment during your visit. This will give you the opportunity to discuss your loved one’s health, medications and any other questions you may have. Most importantly, enjoy quality time together. Ask your loved one for simple activities that they enjoy and do them together.

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