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Long Distance Caregiving

Many adult children find themselves having to deal with becoming a long-distance caregiver. Long-distance caregiving is difficult and expensive. It is estimated that long-distance caregivers spend about $8,728 a year out of pocket. Costs can include phone calls, travel expenses, medicine, medical supplies, meals, and home maintenance, as well as other necessities.
Along with the financial costs, there's also the cost of time. About 80% of all long-distance caregivers are employed, and many of them have had to rearrange their work schedule and miss work in order to conduct caregiving duties.
There are some things you can do to make long distance caregiving manageable.
  • Get a case manager to help decrease the pressure that's on you, since they can work with services available in your loved one's area, like personal support, nursing services that can come to your loved one's home, delivery of meals, or help with personal hygiene.
  • When you return to your own home, be sure and stay in touch with the friends and neighbors you've met. Talking to them will make you feel less guilty about not being there, and also less afraid for your loved one's well-being.
  • Investigate the options for a personal emergency response system for your loved one's home. This will allow 24 hour assistance for your loved one in the event of an emergency.
  • Create a "communication book" where care providers can make note of concerns or questions for you, then you'll have the ability to follow-up on a weekly basis.
  • Prioritize the tasks that you want to accomplish with each visit; in order to stay focused and less confused on visits, keep a list of people you'll need to speak with; and make sure that care providers know where and how to reach you, wherever you may be.
  • Discuss legal and financial issues - these topics may be difficult to talk about, but they help ensure that the older person maintains decision-making authority even when incapacitated.
  • Know where to find all legal, financial, and insurance documents, including birth certificates, social security cards, marriage or divorce decrees, wills, and power of attorney before an emergency happens.