The odds are that most of us will end up caring for a relative or close friend at some point, helping to manage their health and wellness and even make important decisions to ensure that person lives a comfortable, dignified life. Whether these tasks include arranging transportation for doctor’s appointments, overseeing finances, performing chores, or helping hands on with hygiene, getting dressed, or meal preparation, caregivers come in all forms and play an important role in the lives of loved ones.
Statistically, long distance caregivers have an average age of 47 and nearly 70 percent are female. Almost all of them provide care to a close relative despite the challenges associated with long distance caregiving, more than half of them make visits at least once a week to the person they care for. Approximately 40-percent visit at least once a month.
Helping loved ones of friends who live close by can be challenging enough but when the person we are responsible for lives greater distances away, the challenges can included unique obstacles, including lengthy travel time, extra costs, an inability to attend medical appointments and questions about how to find help in a different state. Fortunately for these vital caregivers, there are a multitude of community-based resources to help make these tasks easier and help caregivers and their loved ones.
When caregiving for a loved one or friend who does not live nearby, it is important to plan ahead by learning about the person’s medical wishes, keep contact information for doctors handy, and to be familiar with that person’s insurance and financial information. Furthermore, caregivers should research community-based services to help with transportation, personal care services, nutrition, home modifications, legal aid, and fall prevention.
Other information caregivers need to provide long distance care includes estate planning documents like Durable power of attorney, living will, living trust, revocable trust, health care advance directive. Furthermore, it is a good idea to retain contact information of trusted friends and neighbors as well as mailing addresses and other vital information.
Just as important as caring for others, caregivers must also learn to care for themselves. While it may be difficult to find time for self-care, caregivers need to take this time for themselves to ensure they can continue their work for others. This can include joining caregiver support groups nearby to help with trainings, support groups and other help.