If you live an hour or more away from a loved one you care for, you are a long-distance caregiver. According to Statistics Canada, it is estimated that approximately 12% of family caregivers provide support to a family member who lives at least an hour away by car. If you are a long-distance caregiver, you are not alone, and there are ways to make caregiving easier.
I have observed that long-distance caregivers perform caregiving tasks similar to those performed by caregivers living nearby. These tasks include home maintenance, planning medical appointments and coordinating follow-up care, shopping, and managing finances, amongst many others.
Long-distance caregiving requires regular communication, careful planning and an understanding of each person's role within the caregiving circle. Communicating regularly with the care recipient and all relatives and friends involved in care can help address important issues, ensuring efficient use of resources. Here are a three great caregiving strategies for long-distance caregivers.
1. Managing and sharing information
- try to gather as much information as possible about your loved one's medical conditions, in order to make informed decisions and to have more meaningful conversations with health care providers
- compile a healthcare binder. Put all important documents in a binder or a secure online document. Make copies for other caregivers, and keep the information up to date.
- In the event of an emergency, being prepared can make a big difference. Work with your loved one and everyone in the caregiver circle to create and share a plan for emergencies.
2. Communication strategies
- check in on your loved one frequently. We are living in evolving unprecedented times, which make in-person meetings challenging. So, try to schedule virtual meetings regularly to stay on top of new developments.
- to the extent possible, have one person handle conversations with all healthcare providers, or any outside help that you hire.
- use technology to your advantage. If your loved one lives alone, consider installing a nanny-cam so you can check-in on them. See if you can get a smart phone or a tablet device to facilitate virtual meetings.
- Know the signs of elder abuse and be vigilant. As a long-distance caregiver, knowing the signs of elder abuse can help you keep your loved one safe.
3. Support services
- try to find out what resources are available in your loved one's community. Many communities run programs that provide home-delivered meals, personal grooming services, housekeeping services, transportation and adult day programs. Ask a local friend or neighbour to check-in on your loved one.
- if you are not the primary giver, see if you can provide respite care to the primary caregiver. Caregiver burnout is real, try to avoid caregiver burnout.
As fulfilling as it can be, caregiving comes with certain challenges. At in4MED, we can provide you with strategies and support to make you a happier person and a better caregiver. We will be here for you as your trusted health advocates. As always, feel free to connect with me or leave a comment. Nikita Healthcare Consultant, in4MED firstname.lastname@example.org www.in4med.ca Useful links: Ontario Caregiver Organization https://ontariocaregiver.ca/ Caregiver resources from Teva https://tevacaregivers.com/
Today's Caregiver https://caregiver.com/ The author of this blog post is a Physician with over 10 years of experience working in the healthcare system as a clinician, researcher and educator. She is passionate about healthcare for older adults and strives to be a resourceful inspiration to caregivers. *No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional.