Community Blog

Handling Your New Role as a Distance Caregiver

By Vicki and Brian Day

Caregivers in Palmerton PA

Being a family caregiver poses challenges for any adult child, but if you live at a distance from your parent, you will face challenges and demands that are different from those of other caregivers. This is because you will not be able to be in the home with your loved one as frequently as you may like to be, and may need to put special measures into place to ensure that all of the tasks and obligations of caring for your parent are managed properly even in your absence.

If you have recently stepped into the role of being a family caregiver for a senior who lives at a distance from you, use these tips to help you handle your new role with confidence and effectiveness:

  • Consider help. If your parent needs regular help when you are not available to be in the home with them, a home care provider can be an incredible resource for you. This care provider can act as an extension of the care that you offer your parent. Through establishing a schedule that works for your loved one's needs and a personalized approach to care, this care provider can ensure that your elderly parent has all of the support and assistance that they need at all times.

  • Create a plan. If possible, plan a trip to visit your parent so that you can truly evaluate what they need and start building a care plan. Meet with their doctor and other members of their medical and care team to discuss their needs and how they will handle them when you are not with them. Write as much of this plan down as you can so that you can easily share it with those in your care network who will help your parent live safely, happily, and comfortably in place.

  • Establish lines of communication. Frequent and consistent communication is essential for effective distance caregiving. Work with your parent to come up with a regular schedule of communication with your aging parent so that you can stay in touch. This will allow you to check in with your parent frequently so that you can keep up to date on their condition and make changes as needed. Consider multiple forms of communication so that your parent knows that you are there for them at all times. Phone calls, video chats, and social media provide layers of communication that help keep you and your parent feeling closer even when you are apart. Consider sending care packages occasionally so that your loved one has a tangible reminder of you and your care for them. This care package can include necessary items as well as entertainment and treats. Be sure to include a handwritten note or letter as a special, personalized touch.

  • Plan a visit. Even if you are not able to visit with your parent frequently, set the planning in motion for a visit. This will help you and your parent to both feel confident and more relaxed about this arrangement. Use this visit as your "light at the end of the tunnel" to keep you motivated through the challenges of distance caregiving.