Tips for Long-Distance Caregiving
Tap into the aging network
Contact the local department on aging in your relative's community. This agency can help you identify helpful services. Use the National Eldercare Locator Service to find local aging agencies.
Develop a plan of care
If possible, bring the family together for a meeting. Decide with the older person what the primary needs are, who can provide assistance and what community resources would help. Summarize your agreement in writing. Keep in mind that family difficulties are typical. You may need to bring in a family therapist or social worker to help.
Adjust your plan of care when necessary
Be aware that your care plan may need to be altered. The older person's needs may change, and helpers will come and go. Use your care log to deal with changes.
Explore relocation issues
Primary questions are when, who, and where.
When: Relocation is appropriate when a health professional recommends a change, the older person needs 24-hour care, his or her safety is at risk, or the home does not meet fire or safety standards. Other reasons may be less obvious. Remember, the older person may be willing to bear a little inconvenience to remain in his or her home.
Who: Should you or the older person relocate? Examine the financial and emotional costs.
Where: There are many options for senior housing. Contact your local department of aging for assistance.
Take care of yourself
Maintain good health, make time for yourself, set limits, and allow others to help.