Tips for Long-Distance Caregiving
If your parent(s) or grandparent(s) live far away from you, it might be hard as you get older to feel you are truly there for them in the way they need you. Here are a few tips and thoughts and being a long-distance caregiver.
Define your role. If you have siblings, then you probably all split up the responsibility of taking care of your parents. It’s quite possible, though, that if you live farther away you feel either left out or like you’re not doing enough. Make sure to check in with your siblings (or whatever support system you have) so you can know what’s needed of you.
It’s important to make sure you have a clear role when it comes to the care of loved ones, which leads us to our second point: Communication. If you’re not the only person being relied on, then you shouldn’t feel overly burdened. Make sure that you all work together to be a support system for your mutual loved one. Figure out the role of each person, and if anyone is having a hard time keeping up their end, talk it out calmly so you can figure out the best solution.
Communication will also help you be aware of any changes in your loved one’s health. It’ll help you be prepared if it’s time to start looking into senior living. It’ll help you know if your load is about to get heavier.
Technology will be a very important tool for long-distance care-giving. It’ll help you be an emotional support even when you’re not around. It’ll help you stay in touch and stay in the loop with both your parent and your siblings. Again, communication is key in order to keep everyone’s load as manageable as possible and to prevent any possible disagreements.
Plan regular visits. Even if you live several hours away, try to visit from time to time. There is no right amount of visit per year. Figure out what works best for you based on your schedule and your relationship with your loved one. If you can make an appearance even once every few months, this might help reassure your loved one that you really do care and miss him or her. Being physically present at least once in a while is helpful.
Overall, it’s important that you let go of any guilt that you have. You’re doing the best you can under the circumstances. Maybe you wish you lived closer or could travel more often to spend time with your loved one. Maybe at some point the opportunity will present itself. For now, though, just remember that you’re doing your best.