At a time when seniors wish to remain independent – and in their own homes – for as long as possible, establishing a support system is essential. The act of caregiving often falls on relatives or close friends, but these caregivers are not always local and long-distance caregiving is on the rise.
But how can you provide adequate care from a distance while maintaining the balance of your daily life?
Remaining involved in your loved one’s life, providing long-distance care, and living your own life is a difficult balance. The “sandwich generation,” – identified as middle-aged adults “sandwiched” between caring for their children and their aging parents – can be full of overwhelming and thankless tasks, but maintaining your relationship and providing care at a distance can be done!
Here are a few ways to maintain the caregiver relationship when living far away.
The Reality of Long-Distance Caregiving
Long-distance caregiving is an undeniable stressor. The difficulty of balancing the duties of a caregiver with work and family can be daunting and exhausting. You will have to learn to manage your time and your loved one’s time simultaneously. You will also have to adapt your schedule to include travel time as well as care time.
Expect to make sacrifices if you plan to maintain significant involvement in your loved one’s life. From missing work to rearranging appointments, your job as a caregiver will be all-encompassing. Frequent phone calls at all hours of the day and night may become a new norm. You may also take on the added expense of additional home care in order to ensure your loved one’s well-being when you cannot be present.
What Can I Do?
How can we accept the reality of distance as a barrier but also incorporate ways to embrace it? Finding peace of mind away from your loved one is difficult, but not impossible.
Some ways may include purchasing new forms of technology such as a fall alert system. This is a small investment ensuring that emergency personnel would respond if a loved one suffered a fall. There are also various forms of medication reminders to help loved ones take their medications at the recommended time.
Establish methods of communication that are readily available and easily understood. When utilizing the telephone, your loved one may prefer a landline with multiple cordless phones and charging stations placed around their living area. If your loved one is receptive to video chat, ensure these newfangled programs are installed properly and simplified for ease of use. Many seniors suffer from hearing and vision loss so preset the volume on devices to ensure they can hear properly. Place telephones in locations that are accessible and uncluttered.
Helpful Tips from the AARP:
1. Maintain your identity and embrace the characteristics and strengths that you have while incorporating them into caregiving.
2. Reprioritize as circumstances arise.
3. Get organized. Check out these David York Agency publications for the task: Workbook & Checklist.
4. Be open to accepting help whether it be with minimal daily tasks, assistance from other family and friends or hiring a home care agency.
5. “Keep filling your tank.” Caregiving requires mental and emotional energy. Allow yourself to unwind and reboot.
Understanding the reality of caregiving and accepting ways to embrace it may ease the struggle of long-distance caregiving. David York Agency prides itself on individualized care and maintaining the dignity of your loved one. If you need assistance, support, or an open ear in the world of caregiving, reach out today!
For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, please contact us at 718.376.7755. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.