• Carrie Klaege

The Modern Rules of Caregiving from Afar

As families spread out around the country and globe, seniors often rely on the support of loved ones who live far away. Long-distance caregiving has its own unique challenges, but can be managed safely and effectively in today's changing world.

In the United States, approximately 5-7 million adults are responsible for caring for a senior family member who lives more than 26 miles away. Utilizing smart strategies allows seniors and their long-distance caregivers to have the support they need in what can be a difficult situation.

Common Challenges of Long-Distance Caregiving

Caregiving in general is not an easy task. Coordinating services, ensuring a senior's safety in their living environment, offering companionship, and dealing with emotions are all common difficulties for families. Add in distance between family members and you can expect even more complications.

As a result, common challenges of long-distance caregiving can include:

* Finding, hiring, and managing professional caregivers

* Filling in caregivers during times of absence

* Tracking seniors' progress, needs, and well-being

* Offering companionship to combat loneliness

* Arranging for services like transportation

* Gaining assurance of senior safety in their own homes

* Feeling disconnected or out of the loop in the caregiving process

* Paying for quality care plus travel expenses

Ideas for Before a Crisis Occurs

One of the main factors when dealing with a crisos from afar is having access to all of your loved ones' pertinent paperwork. The Family Caregiver Alliance offers the PDF "Where to Find My Important Papers" to help you collect information which will simplify communication with government agencies, such as the Social Security Administration or the Veterans Administration, also it will help you gain information from banking institutions regarding financial transactions, and make speaking with your loved ones' attorney, accountant, and physician easier.

Legal documents, such as Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Durable Power of Attorney for Asset Management can and should be prepared before a health condition makes it impossible for your loved one to do so. For more information, google

'Legal Issues in Planning for Incapacity." You can find a knowledgeable attorney to assist with these matters through the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.

Further Strategies for Successful Long-Distance Caregiving

While long-distance caregiving has become more and more common, that doesn't mean it's any easier for YOU. Having "boots on the ground" from a caregiving agency who is local to your loved one can be a big help in giving you peace of mind day to day. Many caregiving agencies are now equipped to include long-distance loved ones in caregiving. Advanced in technology also make is possible for far-away family members to be more involved in day to day care.

Smart strategies for long-distance caregiving include:

* Communication is key. As much as possible, include the person who needs care in any decision make processes, especially those related to care and housing. Being respectful of your loved ones' preferences for their lifestyle going forward will lend a lot to their acceptance of changes that are to come.

*Learn what help is available. Educate yourself on the care and services that are available. Although each area of the country is unique in types of services that are offered, similar kinds of services are found just about everywhere (e.g. adult day services, home care agencies, case management, etc.) Search for a local Area Agency on Aging as your first stop to begin locating services in the area you are interested in.

* Taking care. Take care of yourself. Whether you are the primary on-site caregiver or providing care long-distance, caregiving can be stressful. Create a support network for yourself. Talk with friends and family. Allow yourself to hire help or ask for assistance from family members. Trying to do everything yourself is not healthy for you or your loved ones.

* Changing needs. Understand that care needs will shift and change as time passes. It's nt too early to think about possible future needs and make advance plans. Utilize care management services to assist you in keeping track of resources for future use.

You've Decided to Utilize In-Home Caregiving - Now What?

One of the first questions that comes up when looking at private caregivers is "Is it cheaper to employ a private caregiver rather than an agency? Read more here on that subject.

Some tips on selecting the right caregiver or agency:

* Selecting a caregiving agency that uses technology to offer real-time interaction and transparency between in-person caregivers and family members is ideal. Can you regularly check in and read up-to-date status of your loved one?

*Using video calling technology to stay connected with seniors on a regular basis will help you to maintain a clear picture of your loved one's health and mental status. Look for a caregiving agency that encourages you to take part in these communications regularly.

* If you are hiring companions, transportation services, and other services, make sure they hire people with specific knowledge of senior care.

Often, seniors and their long-distance caregivers are anxious about each other's well-being. Utilizing a services like Southern Arizona Home Care can help to keep conversation positive and offer reassurance to both parties during planning and caregiving phases, and often help to improve the long-distance caregiving situation.

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