Long Distance Caregiving – Team Approach and Caring for Yourself

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 8,051
    Mary Alexander with Home Instead Senior Care discusses how to best manage long-distance care-giving. This video focuses on how you can care for yourself as a long distance caregiver.

    Mary Alexander: Hi! I'm Mary Alexander with Home Instead Senior Care. And I'm discussing how to best manage long distance caregiving. And now, I want to talk about how you can care for yourself as a long distance caregiver.

    As you prepare and implement a plan to take care of your senior loved one, don't forget to take care of yourself and the responsibilities you have before this new role came into your life.

    One way to prevent burnout and overload is to create a team to help in the caregiving process. The team can consist of other family members, friends, neighbours, and paid services. The burden of caregiving shouldn't fall solely on your shoulders.

    Start up by talking with other family members and decide, who'll be responsible for which tasks. Think about your schedules and how to adapt them to give respite to a primary caregiver or to coordinate holiday and vacation times.

    Perhaps, one family member is uncountable with the physical care, but is willing to manage the finances. Another might be a great organizer and have time in their schedule to make calls and arrange appointments.

    Perhaps, a neighbor would be willing to mow the lawn and another can take in the mail or check-in on your parents every few days. A friend of your parents might also still be driving and could take them to their appointments as needed. The important thing is to ask for help and ask them to be a realistic about how much they can and can't do.

    The same goes for you. Make sure, you know your strengths and set your limits. When thinking about your limits, consider how often you can afford to travel. Also, make sure, you are emotionally prepared to take on what may feel, like a reversal of roles between you and your parents, yet still be able to respect their autonomy.

    You also need to think about how your decision to take on caregiving responsibilities will affect the rest of your family and your work. Talk over your situation with your family and friends. It's better to go into the situation with your eyes wide open than glossing over the truths. One thing you need to be prepared for is that, when you're in a caregiving role, it's easy to be frustrated and angry with everything and everyone.

    Let's talk about that frustration. It's a common caregiving emotion. It can be hard to acknowledge that you feel angry, frustrated, tired and overwhelmed. Caregiving especially from a distance is likely to bring out a full range of human emotion, both positive and negative. Most caregivers report feeling guilty about almost everything, about not being closer, not doing enough and not having enough time. They're especially worry about being able to take care of their other responsibilities such as caring for their own family and still doing a good job at work.

    Let's talk abut that for a minute. It's vitally important to let your children, spouse and employer know about your new caregiving responsibilities. In the case of your family and spouse, see if there aren't some easy tasks you've been responsible for that they've can takeover. Not having to do the laundry, dusting or grocery shopping may give you a few hours to do what you need you to do to help your parents.

    You should also talk with your boss and Human Resource department of your company. They may be able to help with flexible hours, job sharing, telecommuting, or guidance through your Employee Assistance Program.

    Arrangements could be made that'll give you time off that you need and still be able to get your job done. Depending on the situation and company size, you may be eligible for family medical leave.

    I know, you're busy and there's no extra time in the day but you need to give yourself a break. Take a walk, get some exercise, spent time with your spouse or children, talk with your friends, get some sleep or perhaps even join a support group.

    Meeting other caregivers, either in person or online can relieve your sense of isolation and will give you a chance to exchange stories and ideas. In the end, be sure to frequently remind yourself that you are doing the best you can given the circumstances. Next, let's talk about some of the more common long distance caregiving solutions.