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Caregiving From Afar: It Can Be Done

Here is a problem nearly all of us face: how can I possibly help look after a loved one in another city, another state, another time zone?  And two-thirds of us caregivers also work outside the home.  This calls for some serious juggling skills!  Coping with the demands and responsibilities of a job is more than enough to keep most of us busy; piling on the work and worry of caregiving only makes things that much harder.  Now add some miles to the equation and we have anxiety and guilt  blended into the mix.  As if we need any more guilt!

If you are a primary caregiver who also works outside the home, here are some tips to help you balance your job and personal responsibilities:

  • Delegate.  You can do it!  Share your work and home responsibilities with others.
  • Keep an open lines of communication with your co-workers and supervisor.
  • Ask your HR department about any resources your company might offer, such as referral services or support lines.  If there are assistance programs out there for you, use them.
  • See if your loved one’s primary physician will send a letter to your company explaining the seriousness of his or her health condition.
  • Take advantage of other local resources for caregivers.  Contact your local AAA (Area Agency on Aging) to learn about community resources.  Struggling on alone may find  you feeling frustrated, isolated, depressed.  
What about long-distance caregiving?  Figuring out how to care for a loved one from another city or state, or another country, for that matter, is tough. You may feel torn or conflicted and just plain helpless.  You can indeed help out, however.  Just what is long-distance caregiving?  It takes many forms.  You might:
  • Provide emotional support to the primary caregiver.
  • Manage your loved one’s medical records and bills.
  • Schedule occasional visits, both the cheer up the patient and provide respite for the on-site caregiver.
  • Coordinate services.  You might arrange for household help or the in-home care; you might start researching nursing homes or arrange the move to such a facility.
Next: how to be the most effective long-distance caregiver.

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