Caregiving for an adult loved one can be challenging. It can be even more difficult if you are caring for a loved one from a distance. If you find yourself in the long-distance caregiving role, there are ways to assess your loved one's ongoing needs.
- Begin by establishing an informal network of neighbors, friends, or family members who are willing to periodically check on your loved one.
- Stay in close contact with your loved one. Consider setting up a system whereby you must contact one another each day (perhaps at a specified time). If you don't hear from your loved one -- and can't get in touch with him or her yourself -- alert a neighbor or the police department so they can check on him or her for you.
- Experienced caregivers recommend that you learn as much as you can about your loved one’s illness, medicines, and available resources. Information can help you understand what is going on, anticipate the course of an illness, prevent crises, and assist in healthcare management. It can also make talking with your loved-one’s doctor easier.
- Make sure at least one family member has written permission to receive medical and financial information.
- If possible, a single designated family member should talk with all healthcare providers. Try putting together a notebook, on paper or online, including all the vital information about medical care, social services, contact numbers, financial issues, and more.
- Make copies for other caregivers and keep it up to date.
Occasionally, you may need to travel to assess your loved one's physical and mental health, or to respond to an emergency. To prepare, set aside savings or set up an emergency travel fund, and plan your visits carefully. Here are some planning tips:
- If you want to investigate care options (such as home health care agencies, housing options), set up appointments well in advance. It may also be wise to make dental and doctor appointments for your loved one so you can attend with them while you are visiting.
- Talk to your loved-one ahead of time and find out what they would like to do.
- Check with the primary caregiver, if appropriate, to learn their needs, such as handling some caregiving responsibilities while you are in town.
If you need additional information and resources, your EAP can help. Your EAP offers a variety of eldercare resources and is just a phone call away. For more information, contact your Component EAP, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.