It is challenging to be a caregiver, but it is an extra obstacle trying to do it from a distance.  Creating a contact list, collecting important information, making visits productive, looking into public benefits online, getting help with managing the care, and keeping communication open are ways to help cope with managing the distance.

  • Create a contact list of addresses and phone numbers of friends, neighbors, doctors, faith leaders, and others familiar with your loved one who can be reached in an emergency. Try to include at least one person geographically near by who can easily check in.  Consider giving this person a house key with permission of your loved one. These people may also be able to help out with some needs such as shopping, transportation, or visits.
  • Collect important information before a crisis. Information related to medical, insurance, utilities, financial, and legal should all be kept organized and easily accessible.
  • Take advantage of your time with your loved one.  Enjoy your time, but ensure you assess your loved one’s changing needs. Decide together what needs to be taken care of. If time allows, do what you can to help take care of some of those needs. Pay attention to anything out of the ordinary and safety hazards. Check to see if your loved one’s daily needs are still being adequately met and determine if additional help is needed.
  • Look online to get an idea of the different public assistance programs for which your loved one might be eligible. You can find state, federal, and private benefits programs available where your loved one lives by a simply internet search.  There are programs that can help them save money and cover costs of everyday expenses.
  • Get help with managing the care.  Most communities have professionals who can measure your loved one’s abilities and needs and help set up a plan for care. One form of assistance is through government-funded programs.  A private geriatric care manager is another option for professional care.  If your loved one has long-term care insurance, this might be covered under the policy.
  • Be sensitive to your loved one’s view of the situation and keep the lines of communication open. Some of the decisions you make may be difficult at first, such as having a stranger in the home, even when there is a need.

And, always, reassure your loved one that they are not dealing with the challenges alone.