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Long Distance Caregiving
caring for the elderlyLong-distance caregiving takes many forms from helping manage the money to arranging for in-home care; from providing respite care for a primary caregiver to helping a parent move to a new home or facility.

Many long-distance caregivers act as information coordinators, helping aging parents understand the confusing maze of home health aides, insurance benefits, and durable medical equipment.

Caregiving is often a long-term task. What may start out as an occasional social phone call to share family news can eventually turn into regular phone calls about managing health insurance claims, getting medical information, and arranging for respite services. What begins as a monthly trip to check on Mom or dad may turn into a larger project to move her to a nursing facility close to your home.

If you are a long-distance caregiver, you are not alone. Approximately 7 million adults are long-distance caregivers, mostly caring for aging parents who live an hour or more away. Historically, caregivers have been primarily mid-life, working women who have other family responsibilities. That's changing. More and more men are becoming caregivers. In fact, men now represent over 40 percent of caregivers. Clearly, anyone, anywhere can be a long-distance caregiver. Gender, income, age, social status, employment, none of these prevent you from taking on caregiving responsibilities.

Ways to help manage long distance caregiving:
  1. Get help from people in your aging parent's community. You can contact a neighbor, relative, friend or your parent's doctor. Give them a heads-up that your aging parent is alone and might need their help anytime.

  2. Check local listings for senior resources in your parent's area. Give a copy of the list to your parent and keep one for yourself.

  3. Keep a list of your parent's prescriptions and medications. It's always good to have this list for emergency purposes.

  4. Encourage your parent to join senior events, if his or health permits. It will be good for him or her to be active and be able to socialize with friends and other people her or his age.

  5. Do check on her regularly. Communication is key to make sure your parent is safe. This will give you peace of mind as well.

  6. If necessary, hire a primary caregiver for your aging parent. Make sure that the caregiver is trustworthy. Read Tips For Hiring Independent Home Care Providers, for more information.

  7. Make sure that your parent has an advance directive to know what his or her health care preferences are. If not, it is important to set-one up. Copies of your parent’s advance directive should be given to the primary caregiver, your parent's doctor and keep a copy for yourself as well.

  8. When you visit your mom or dad, it is important that you check the house in order to make sure that his or her house is safe. Be sure to make needed improvements as well if there are things that need to be repaired.

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