If you live an hour or more away from someone who needs care, you’re considered a long-distance caregiver. Care can take many forms, from arranging in-home care to helping with money management or planning for emergencies.
While long-distance caregiving poses its unique challenges, here are six tips to help you succeed.
Get to Know the Important Facts
It’s important to learn as much as you can about your family member’s or friend’s illness. This includes medicines and resources that may be available. Understanding the illness will help you know what’s going on, what to expect, and how to prevent a crisis. It also makes it easier to talk to doctors about their care.
One family member (typically a primary caregiver) should handle conversations with all health care providers. Put all vital information in one place for everyone to access. This includes information about medical care, contact numbers, social services, financial management, etc.
Learn More About Caregiving Responsibilities
Whether you’re a primary or long-distance caregiver, caregiving training can be helpful for anyone. If you haven’t provided care before, it’s normal to not automatically know what to do. For example, bathing someone, preventing and treating bedsores, and moving from a bed to a chair aren’t necessarily things that come naturally.
Some nonprofit organizations may offer courses as well as some local American Red Cross chapters. Medicaid and Medicare may even pay for training.
Plan Your Visits in Advance
When living long-distance, you may feel like there’s always so much to do on your visits. Check-in with your family member or friend in advance of your visit and ask what they would like to do. Connect with the primary caregiver to find out if they have any needs while you’re in town. Stick to the priorities and leave other tasks for another visit.
Don’t Underestimate Quality Time
Your visits don’t need to be all about caregiving. Spend quality time with your relative by watching a movie together, playing a game, taking a drive, or going to church. Doing something simple and relaxing builds memories and benefits everyone.
“Care can take many forms, from arranging in-home care to helping with money management or planning for emergencies.”
Stay in Touch with the Care Team
Families can schedule conference calls with a patient’s doctor, assisted living team, or nursing home staff. This helps ensure everyone is on the same page with up-to-date information. Be sure to keep a phone and email contact list for everyone involved. It’s a simple way to keep everyone updated on your family member’s needs.
Help the Person Stay in Contact
It can be hard to be away from your family. Help your friend or family member keep in touch by providing a private phone line in a nursing home or giving them a cell phone (and teaching them how to use it). These strategies can be a lifeline in helping the individual feel included and loved. Just be aware, you may get inundated with phone calls or texts.
At LTC Consumer, we help families plan for future long-term care needs with Long-Term Care insurance. If you’re in the retirement planning years, learn more about coverage options and request a free quote today.