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Long-Distance Caregiving for Aging Parents—Insights & Tips
When you hear the term “family caregiver,” the first thing that comes to mind is probably someone who lives with an aging parent and tends to their daily needs. In reality, family caregiver roles look different from situation to situation. In fact, there are many adult children who don’t live with—or even in the same area as—their loved ones. Despite the distance, these determined individuals still find ways to provide their parents the love and support they need to feel well-cared for while living safely and independently at home.
Throughout our decades delivering uplifting in-home care to seniors across the country, we’ve learned a thing or two about long-distance caregiving. First, no matter the distance, solid family connections are essential to maintaining mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Second, a daily dose of joy works wonders—even if it’s not enjoyed in person.
So, to help you care for a family member that doesn’t live nearby, we’ve gathered some insights and helpful tips you can use to make the most of your long-distance caregiving arrangements.
Connect with technology.
Mobile phones, social media, and video calling make it easy and convenient for families to stay connected, no matter where they live. From daily check-ins and random virtual “drop-ins” to sharing meals and family get togethers, technology is opening new doors to make long-distance caregiving feel more seamless while bringing loved ones closer to each other.
And because peace of mind is always top of mind for long-distance caregivers, technology like the online family portal used by Comfort Keepers® is a great tool for keeping everyone up to date on the everyday activities, health, and care plans of seniors. Online portals allow family members to actively coordinate in-home care with service providers in ways that promote communication and create more transparency to help ensure the best possible quality of life.
Know your role.
As a long-distance caregiver, there are plenty of roles you can play to help your parent experience more joy every day. For starters, think of engaging activities that you can do with them virtually, on the phone, or via postal mail. You can send pictures back and forth (texts and snail mail both work) to rekindle special memories while creating new ones. You can offer to help with paying bills and making doctor’s appointments to take those tasks off their plate. At the end of the day, the most important role you can fill is the one you were born to play—loving daughter or son. Just remembering that can make all the difference.
Create a home team.
Back to peace of mind. If possible, having a go-to team of local people you trust to step up and help in case of emergencies is always a plus. Talk to your parents to see who they are comfortable with and trust. These people can be your parent’s neighbors, local relatives or friends —anyone you have faith in to be there for your family when it matters most.
Prepare for common challenges.
One of the most common challenges of caring from afar is simply staying informed about your senior loved one’s health, day-to-day needs, and changes in their care plan. To keep yourself in the loop, ask your parent to grant you access to their health information and permission to speak with their doctors, pharmacists, and caregivers. Setting up regular meetings to touch base with their care team will help you ensure your loved one is getting the care and attention they need.
Hire in-home care specialists.
In-home care specialists like Comfort Keepers create individualized plans of care for seniors based on their needs, wants, and personalities. They are the people who care for your parent when you can’t be there to do it in person. In our experience, we’ve found that the best caregivers are highly empathetic, very friendly, and deeply committed to caring for others’ parents as they would care for their own. Specialists like Comfort Keepers know how to use everyday moments to create joy in the lives of seniors while making sure they are safe, healthy, and well.
You’re certainly not alone when it comes to being a long-distance family caregiver. For additional support and information on long-distance caregiving, explore these online resources from trusted national organizations.
- Alzheimer's Association
- National Association of Area Agencies on Aging
- NIH (National Institute on Aging)
You may also consider joining a long-distance caregiving support group so you can talk to other family caregivers who are caring for loved ones from afar.
Comfort Keepers Can Help
Our Comfort Keepers caregivers are ready to help your family successfully manage long-distance caregiving by providing your mom or dad the uplifting in-home care they need to live safely and independently at home with hope, dignity, and purpose. And because our integrated approach gives you access to online portals and daily communications, you can always rest assured that your parent is getting the care and attention they deserve to enjoy their best life. This transparency gives you more peace of mind and gives you the opportunity to focus on making the most of the time you spend with your parent, online and off.
To learn how we can help your family manage long-distance caregiving, contact your local Comfort Keepers location today.