If you live more than an hour away from a person who depends on your care, you are a long distance caregiver. There are more than 7 million long distance caregivers in the United States today. Caregivers have traditionally been most commonly women, although in recent years men are getting more involved. People of all ages, genders, and employment are able to act as caregivers. Long distance caregivers take care of a variety of things including financing and money management, arranging in-home care, information coordination, and helping aging individuals to understand the various aspects of their own health needs.
Caregiving, no matter what the distance, is a big job. The commitment is often long-lasting and the responsibilities are constantly growing. What may begin as an occasional phone call may turn into regular calls about managing household bills, getting medical information, and arranging grocery deliveries. Even for caregivers who live very far away, increasing needs may lead to long drives or flights across the country just to handle daily activities. What starts as monthly trips to check in on loved ones may evolve into a need to move closer.
A phone call is not always the best way to tell whether or not a person needs more help with daily activities. As a long distance caregiver, it can be useful to employ the help of neighbors, friends, doctors, or local relatives to be sure that you have an accurate picture of the needs of your loved one. It is also a good idea to make longer visits when possible because it will be more difficult for problems to be disguised in person than over the phone. In addition to safety concerns and the overall condition of the house, it is also important to take note of your loved one’s mood and general health.
Long distance caregivers play a very valuable role in the lives of their loved ones. Friends and family who are unable to have regular face-to-face contact can still provide much needed emotional support. Staying in contact will also help to take some pressure off of local relatives who help out with things in person. In our modern world, even from a distance, caregivers can handle many things online. Researching medicines, paying bills, and keeping friends and family updated are all helpful tasks that other family members may not have time for.