Summer is here! For those of you who can travel to see your loved ones, that is amazing! Travel safely and well. For those of you with caregiver duties who cannot travel, being far away can be a challenge. Long distance is tough on any relationship, and this is especially true for caregivers and their loved ones who find themselves far away from each other. Long distance caregivers are often required to miss work to see to their relative’s care, may need to manage and supervise paid care providers from a distance and often feel left out of decisions made by health care professionals and other family members who are on-site. Worry can set in as it is very hard to have a loved one at a distance because they may not be eating, may not be taking their medication as directed or may not have anyone to look out for them in an emergency.
This summer we are giving you tips for caregiving that can help you feel secure no matter if you are one minute or one-thousand miles away.
Collect Important Information Before a Crisis
Keep the following information organized and easy to reach: medical records; notes on their condition; medications; names and phone numbers of all doctors, pharmacies, and medical insurance (The Caregiver’s Journal works for this!); will, trust and estate information and contacts; financial information such as bank account numbers, investment accounts and insurance policies; and personal identification information such as social security numbers, birth and marriage certificates.
Discover Who’s Who
If you do not know them already, get to know your loved one’s best friends and neighbors. Establish a relationship. Give them a call, video chat or email. Have their contact information readily available on your person or in your car at all times.
Schedule a family meeting. Gather those involved in your loved one’s care in person, by phone or chat. Discuss your goals, feelings and divvy up duties. Summarize decisions made and distribute notes. Include your loved one in the decision-making.
Maintain a balance
Depending on the circumstances, talking about caregiving issues in every conversation you have with your loved one might not be the best for your relationship. Try to have phone calls with the sole purpose of a lighthearted conversation versus health related or other stressful issues. You can always, “get down to business” on another call to review medical, financial or other heavier matters at hand.
If you have the good fortune of being able to travel to see your loved one, make the most use of your time. Plan ahead before your visit by making appointments and addressing any care need weeks or months in advance. Set some time aside to observe your loved in their daily environment. Sometimes when we visit we over-schedule and may miss a hazard like a loose rug, or some type of self-care concern like an inordinate amount of dirty laundry and dishes, unopened mail, or lack of food in the refrigerator or pantry.
Remember, caregivers prove every day that…