You first, feel it is manageable. You find yourself calling weekly to the one you care for then paying bills, arranging medical appointments, home utility management and repair services. Then it may include shopping for groceries, cooking and personal care needs and in home supportive services. It may then change to daily calls to frequent visits and responding to frequent emergencies.
Knowing when you can't help them further and if they are accepting of that or if they can meet needs within their financial restraints are major concerns. As the long-distance caregiver you may find your loved ones need more help than you are able to handle long distance. You may find there is a need for your loved one to transition to another level of care. Whatever your situation there are recommendations to assist you in this long-distance caregiver role.
Foremost it is so important to dialogue when you live far from your parent or loved one especially when you know they rely on you. Learn what the parent or loved one's wishes are regarding their future needs and recognize that things will change and how best to manage their options before it happens. Of course, wanting to live in their current living environment is a priority for most, so see what options exist to provide that. I recommend you call your local county where your parent or loved one lives and contact senior supportive services which can be called a council or commission of aging and get more information and resources. Attending a caregiver support group can also assist you in learning more.
Here are helpful online long-distance caregiving resources and brochures that are available: The National Institute of Health-So Far Away: Twenty Questions and Answers About Long-Distance Caregiving, the Family Caregiver Alliance-Handbook for Long -Distance Caregivers and MetLife and the National Alliance for Caregiving-Long-Distance Caregiving brochure.
Learning options are your allies in long-distance caregiving!
Suzanne Holguin, RN, BSN, is assessment nurse and caregiver support group facilitator at the Friendship Centers of Emmet County. Send questions and comments to Caregiving Column, Attn. Suzanne Holguin RN, BSN, c/o Friendship Centers of Emmet County, 1322 Anderson Road, Petoskey, Mich. 49770; firstname.lastname@example.org; or 347-3211, ext. 15. The Caregiving column runs on the third Monday of every month.