Essential Tips for Long-Distance Caregivers

Friday, 22 December, 2017

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It's only natural that long-distance caregivers feel some sort of guilt that they cannot be by their parents' side in a time of need. Natural feelings of guilt are not necessarily justifiable feelings of guilt, however. Most long-distance caregivers, often children or grandchildren, must live their lives, too. Uprooting an entire family and/or changing jobs to be a full-time caregiver is rarely feasible, and most often is not necessary anyway. There are ample resources to advise long-distance caregivers on how to impart love, support, and tangible care on their loved one.

What an Elderly Loved-One Needs

The responsibilities which caregivers must shoulder vary greatly according to the shape of the one being cared for. Many must consider hiring an in-person caregiver to assist. The Family Caregiver Alliance recommends finding hired help that can assist in the personal, household, health, and emotional care of a loved one. In many cases, an elderly person will feel too proud or apathetic to communicate the full extent of their health issues, so relying on the help of a full-time caretaker is smart.

However, there is also much that a full-time caretaker will not be able to take care of. These responsibilities will fall onto the long-distance caretaker. The long-distance caregiver should first coordinate with other family members to alert them to the nature of the responsibilities. A strong family will be happy to delegate these tasks amongst themselves, but this is not always the case.

According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the more pressing responsibilities are administrative. This includes the payment of medical bills. Those who take on this bill-paying role must be aware of how to spot Medicare fraud, which comes in many forms. In addition, this long-distance caregiver should keep in frequent contact with full-time caregivers, helping to arrange appointments and activities for the loved one.

It is always smart to do plenty of research on any specific conditions that a loved one may have, as it will make conversations with the caretaker, doctors, and the loved one himself more productive. Further, having copies of medical records, medications to be taken, and the name and number of doctors and pharmacies is key to remaining vigilant, says AARP. Don't forget to call them for emotional support frequently, either.

A long-distance caregiver should know that it is not only the person that will need to be taken care of. The tasks that an aging loved one used to handle on their own must also be tended to.

Taking Care of a Loved One's Property

Full-time caregivers are not typically paid to do household chores, though some of them may take the time to fold laundry and clean a bit if they are generous. This means that long-distance caregivers are often saddled with taking care of their loved one's home maintenance.

A communicative relationship with the in-person caregiver is a start, as they will be best suited to bring needed repairs to your attention. However, it will be on you to find solutions to the problems. Evaluating the safety of the loved one's home is just one of the duties that the National Institute of Aging lists for long-distance caregivers. Most long-distance caregivers will feel the inherent responsibility to keep the house looking presentable, too.

This means hiring somebody to mow the lawn, cut bushes, and spray for insects. If the elder has a pool, coordinating with a cleaning service will also be necessary. A long-distance caregiver is often required to provide solutions to problems, but they should also take the time to maintain the property aesthetically.


Witnessing loved ones aging is an inevitable aspect of life. It can be guilt-inducing when an elderly loved one is separated by a distance that prevents in-person care. However, distance does not mean that a caregiver is impotent to help out. These long-distance caregivers can handle administrative tasks, arrange appointments, and provide for necessary home maintenance that in-person caretakers most often will not. Such an arrangement will not only benefit the aging loved one, it will ease the burden that distance imposes on a caregiver's conscience.