How to be a long-distance caregiver?
This article originally appeared on the NHCOA blog.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the health precaution it brought with it, have now also required remote caregiving to also became an essential part of some people’s daily routine. Meeting or visiting someone is now more complicated and is not recommended because it could endanger the health of everyone involved, especially if the person receiving care is an older adult. Therefore, long-distance caregiving has taken more prominence as a solution in this current situation.
It is necessary to emphasize that long distance caregivers, in most cases, need the help of a primary or full-time caregiver, who is in charge of caring for the older adult, especially if they are caring for a person who suffers from some type of terminal illness, Alzheimer’s or other type of dementia.
Here are some tips that can help assist with the long-distance caregiving process and relieve tension:
- Get to know the details
Long distance care begins with an understanding and knowledge about the influences of any potential illness that the person you are caring for is suffering from. It is extremely important to learn all the details about the medications and resources that the family member, friend or acquaintance needs. The information can help you understand what is happening, anticipate the course of the disease, prevent a crisis, and assist in managing their health care.
- Plan your visits
Before visiting your loved one, try to know exactly what to do and how much time you have to do it. Distance care requires regular communication and careful planning. This will help to successfully define the priorities of the visit and to define other less urgent needs, which can wait.
- Assist the primary caregiver
You need to constantly communicate with the primary caregiver, ask about their needs, and be attentive and assist them if required. Also, during in-person visits, ask what responsibilities you can help with to relieve some pressure. Ask if you can attend doctor’s appointments during your visit to stay informed about health plans and treatments.
- Provide emotional support
Make yourself available to the full-time caregiver and listen to their concerns or frustrations and also support the one being cared for. Part of giving emotional support is constantly staying in touch. Its important to make use of every available option to stay close to your loved one, whether it’s through a call, video chat, or text messages.
- Manage paperwork
Organizing paperwork is one of the ways that a long-distance caregiver can be of great help. An important part of effective caregiving depends on keeping the information in order and up to date.
- Manage guilt
Many long-distance caregivers feel guilty about not being able to do enough or spend adequate time with a family member in need of care. However, remember that this is a response to the circumstances and the reality that we live in.
It’s important to know how to manage guilt. It might be helpful to join a support group of caregivers to help you with advice or provide you with information on how to handle the situation.
NHCOA recognizes the work of caregivers both inside and outside the United States and reminds them that they are not alone. Together we can improve the quality of life of each and every older adult and to ensure that we provide them with fair and dignified aging.
National Insititute on Aging:
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.