When an aging parent lives in one state and you live in another, caregiving can be even more challenging than usual. Not being able to see for yourself how your senior loved one is doing makes it more difficult to decide what your next step should be. This week, we thought it would help to address some of the more common obstacles long distance caregivers face and offer a few solutions to help.

Common Struggles for Long-Distance Caregivers

Here are a few of the challenges adult children face when providing care from a distance:

  1. Personal Visit. Deciding if a new problem or issue merits an in-person visit is often difficult to decide. If an elderly parent who lives in Missouri, for example, comes down with a virus, they may be very sick for a few days and need someone to help them stay hydrated and to prepare meals. However, when the caregiver lives in Maine or California, their loved one may be on the road to recovery before they can make the arrangements they need to get there.
  2. Juggling Family and Career. When you are a long-distance caregiver with children of your own and a job in another state, it isn’t always easy to pack up and go at a moment’s notice. Financially and logistically, long-distance caregiving can be a strain.
  3. Connecting with Resources. If you live in a different area of the state or even a different part of the country than your aging parent, it can be more difficult to find the right resources for your loved one. Interviewing in-home care providers and supervising their performance is tough to do from a distance.

Help for the Long-Distance Caregiver

Fortunately, there are some proven methods of managing care for a loved one long distance. A few suggestions include:

  1. Utilizing video conference services. Free video chat services like Skype allow you to have a “face-to-face” conversation with your senior loved one.
  2. Use the internet to explore your options for senior care. Most in-home care agencies and senior living communities have a variety of information and resources on their website.
  3. Develop an emergency plan for a variety of scenarios before you visit. If you are afraid your loved one is at risk for a fall, for example, work with a care manager to have a home assessment done and to find a medical alert system that will allow them to call for help. Interview providers during the time you are home visiting your loved one.
  4. Consider employing a professional care manager.  Use a professional to check in on your senior loved one on a routine basis and to help develop an overall plan for their needs. It will provide you with eyes and ears that can help you get an accurate, unbiased assessment of how your aging loved one is really doing.

If you are trying to assess how safe a senior loved one’s home environment is, you might find our In-Home Safety Checklist to be of help.