Caring at a Distance

Living in a mobile society, we often do not live where we grew up.  Mom, dad or other loved ones may live across the country when emergencies arise.  Relocating them at these times may not be practical or they may refuse.  So, what do you do?  How do you care for a loved one at a distance?

Jim Comer, “Parenting your Parents” stated, “Your parents may stretch your comfort zone, test your patience and strain your diplomatic skills.”  However, through a network of services, you can find appropriate long term care and provider/agencies for your loved one.  Services provided by an elder attorney, a geriatric care manager, geriatric specialty doctor, home health and hospice agencies, in-home assistance/companion services, and a placement specialist are available to assist you.

Some good ideas for distant caring from the National Institute on Aging include:

  • Learn as much as you can about your loved one’s illness and treatment.  This will help when talking with the doctor and making necessary medical decisions.  Be sure there is a designated person responsible for medical and financial information.  Discuss and complete an advanced directive to know your loved one’s wishes before a crisis occurs.
  • Plan regular visits to be aware of declining memory or deterioration in health.  If you are not available, have a relative or neighbor keep you posted on your loved one’s well being. Be sure they have important emergency numbers.
  • Regular contact with doctors, assisted living facility team or nursing home staff will keep you informed with up to date information about your loved one’s health and progress.

( A copy of “So Far Away: Twenty Questions for Long-Distance Caregiver” can be obtained free of charge National Institute on Aging Information Center, P.O. Box 8057, Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8057,

As Long distance care giving becomes more common, there are those who can assist you as you journey on your road less travelled.  There is comfort knowing you’re not walking alone.

Submitted by Valerie Taylor, BSN, RN, Elder Care Specialist for South Texas Alternative Choice, LLC.

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