Are you a Long-Distance Caregiver?
According to the National Institute on Aging, about seven million adults live at least an hour from a parent they're caring. If you're one of these long distance caregivers, you know the challenges first hand.
Your involvement with long-distance caregiving may have started with a call that your parent had fallen and broken a hip, or you noticed during phone calls that your loved one has gradually become more confused. Long-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. At first long-distance caregiving may simply be a weekly, it often becomes a long-term task that takes an increasing amount of time.
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. (National Institute on Aging)
The Challenges of Long-Distance Caregiving
The sudden realization of your new role as a caregiver is likely to be stressful. You may feel overwhelmed and alone. You may experience feelings of guilt that you are not doing enough. Or feel resentful that you are doing too much. These feelings are normal. Long-distance caregiving can be very stressful. Listed below are resources that can help make your long-distance caregiving tasks a bit more manageable.
Long-Distance Caregiving Resources
If you've been assigned the task of provide long-distance care, you are going to need help. Here are some good places to start.
A geriatric care manager can help you provide long-distance care by assessing needs and arranging for services. Visit CareManager.org.
Use the Administration on Aging's Eldercare Locator, to locate aging services in your loved ones community, www.eldercare.gov.
Does your relative qualify for state and federal assistance programs? Take the National Council on Aging Benefits Check Up.
Is your loved one eligible for Medicaid? Check here.
The Amercian Association of Retired Persons (AARP) website has a number of articles related to long-distance care and caregiving.
RememberItNow! and Long-Distance Care
RememberItNow! provides patients and their far-away family members with a simple, easy way to coordinate, manage, and track all caregiver activities. Because it is Web-based, any authorized person who has a PC with an Internet connection can access or add data to the system. They can store details of each aide – who they are, where they live, what type of assistance they have been hired to provide, related fees, etc. Additionally, they can coordinate schedules and keep track of who's coming, when they'll arrive, and what they'll be doing.
Patients can also give any caregiver access to their calendars. This will enable them to check their schedules and confirm appointments, and to stay on top of any important patient activities taking place when they are not around (i.e. if the patient undergoes a surgical procedure and will require special care at the next visit). It will also allow them to enter important notes in the health journal for the patient, family members, and other caregivers. For example, if a laboratory test or a procedure is scheduled, the caregiver can let everyone know that the patient must fast for 12 hours beforehand. They can record the patient's overall wellness, activity, meals, rest, and health statistics. They can also set reminders for patients, especially for medications.
Friends and family members can be given access to the information in RememberItNow! too. This way the burden of care doesn't fall to just one person. These additional long-distance caregivers can assist in setting and coordinating assistance from various aides, scheduling physician visits, or setting reminders for medications, to ensure that all the patient's needs are being met. Through the care community, everyone can be keep up to date, and can help to participate in a patient's care, no matter where they are located. RememberItNow! makes the challenge of long-distance care easier on everyone.