More than 7 million Americans identify themselves as long distance caregivers. If you are the only caregiver and far away, these tips will help you to provide a unique level of care for your loved one, no matter the distance.
Collect Important Information about your loved one. Organized info, including your loved one’s medical, dental, financial, legal and insurance can prove to be a big help in preparation for an unexpected crisis.
A detailed list of assets and any debts accrued
A record of monthly income and expenditures
Information on credit cards, bank account numbers and other finances
Social security numbers
Living wills as well as legal documentation of your loved one’s wishes
Durable Power of Attorney forms
Any other sensitive documents with regard to property such as their home or car deeds
A list of current medications and or equipment suppliers
Name, phone number and address of physicians
Emergency numbers as well as locations of emergency facilities
All relevant medical records
Pharmacy names and phone numbers
Be sure to keep a current list of your loved one’s insurance policies and their account numbers.
Remember to keep communication between you and your loved one open and honest.
Maintain a positive mindset and realize that your loved one may be resistant to change. Be sensitive to their situation. Conversations can be more difficult over the phone as you cannot see facial expressions or body langueage. It is not easy for a parent, who once cared for you, to now be the one cared for.
Don’t forgo caring for yourself.
The strain of caregiving can be exhausting. Accept the fact that is impossible to provide all of the support that your loved one needs alone. Give yourself credit for the amount of care you have been giving and allow others to supplement your care. If you feel like you are not being supported by other family members, ask them to pitch in. Be sure to let them know, in a non-confrontational manner, how you feel and how it is affecting you.
Optimize the time you have when you make a visit.
Making the most of every visit is important. Below are some ideas for how to optimize the time you have during a visit.
- Make a list of household items that are needed and make sure to get duplicates of items that your loved one may go through quickly.
- Allot extra time in which you can sort through their mail and other documents.
- Visit with the neighbors and ask if they would mind keeping a watchful eye for unusual activity (noticing the mail or trash pile up, strange noises, anything out of the ordinary that may be cause for concern).
- Try to notice if they are keeping up with their daily routines (eating, bathing, trash upkeep, general house maintenance).
- Be on the look out for hazards in the home such as bad lighting, faulty handrails. Loose rugs or exposed cords that may be an obstacle or falling hazard.
Be sure to also spend time enjoying each other’s company. A visit that is all business won’t be good for anyone. And it is likely your loved one really wants to spend time with you.
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