Long-distance Caregiving: How to Care for Your Loved One When You Live Far Away
Author: Lifeline Canada
Date: 25 October 2023
Caring for our aging loved ones is a shared experience for many of us. This responsibility can encompass tasks such as driving them to appointments, cooking them meals, or supporting their needs in your own unique way. Caregiving is a deeply personal journey, and it varies for everyone—especially for those who live a significant distance away from those they’re caring for. This is commonly referred to as long-distance caregiving, and it’s a situation many find themselves in when they have relocated for various reasons, leaving behind loved ones who were still relatively independent. For nearly one-third of caregivers, long-distance caregiving is their reality and presents various challenges where support can be difficult to manage. In this post, we’ll explore ways to be an effective primary caregiver despite the physical distance.
Challenges of Fulfilling Caregiver Duties Remotely
The physical distance between you and your loved one can introduce several complexities to your caregiving responsibilities. Here are some key areas where distance can hinder your ability to provide comprehensive support:
- Limited availability: The time-consuming nature of driving or commuting to your loved one’s location can strain your schedule, making it challenging to be there for them when needed.
- Communication barriers: If your loved one isn’t tech-savvy or doesn’t have a cell phone, maintaining regular contact can be challenging. Additionally, if they have informal caregivers nearby, coordinating communication can be tricky.
- Lack of familiarity with local resources: Being geographically distant means you’re less likely to have immediate knowledge of the local resources available to your loved one. Research is often necessary to discover where they can receive assistance.
- Emotional strain and guilt: Your deep care and concern for your loved one, coupled with the physical distance, can lead to feelings of frustration and sadness. Their words or behaviour may further compound these emotions.
Strategies for Effective Long-Distance Caregiving
Perhaps you’ve faced some of the above challenges or are grappling with unique difficulties. Your efforts and commitment to your loved one are admirable, and fortunately, there are ways to ease the hardships you face while maintaining your caregiver responsibilities.
Establish Open Communication Channels
Establish a regular schedule for calls and check-ins with your loved one to facilitate smoother communication. Pick a specific day and time each week for updates, and ensure you touch base after appointments or outings. This routine will help keep you well-informed and emotionally connected.
Commit to having a longer, more personal conversation with your loved one weekly. An engaging activity, like cooking a meal together over a phone or video call, can foster cherished memories and strengthen your bond despite the distance. For instance, consider preparing this del-egg-table twist on a classic recipe together.
Coordinate with Local Caregivers and Service Providers
Supplementing your caregiving duties with local community services can create a perfect balance, allowing you to manage care from a distance while ensuring your loved one receives the support they need. One option to consider is Right At Home, which offers different levels of care tailored to your loved one’s specific requirements. This can be especially helpful when you’re away for a while and want to ensure your loved one is well taken care of. Here at Lifeline Canada, we provide a Check-In Service, which includes one, two, or three daily calls to connect with your loved one and provide any necessary assistance.
Staying on top of bills, payments, and expenses is essential for promoting healthy financial habits for your loved one, even from afar. You can simplify this by integrating their bank account information into a mobile app and speaking with their bank to establish daily withdrawal and spending limits. Additionally, setting up automatic online payments ensures that their financial obligations are consistently met.
Even if your loved one is not tech-savvy or finds new devices daunting, incorporating technology can still be a valuable part of your caregiving strategy.
- A personal emergency response system allows your loved one to instantly connect with someone if something has happened to threaten their safety. Medical alert systems are straightforward to install and user-friendly, giving round-the-clock peace of mind.
- For convenience and ease of care, telemedicine facilitates a call between your loved one and a medical professional. Any issues they might be having can be dealt with promptly and efficiently, saving you and them from heading to a clinic.
- To ensure medications are taken as prescribed, medication dispensers act as an effective way to support your loved one’s well-being. With Lifeline, you are alerted if doses are missed, allowing you to follow up when necessary.
How Medical Alert Systems Can Help With Long-Distance Caregiving
Medical alert systems, initially designed in the 1970s to support wearers in emergencies, have evolved to offer invaluable assistance to caregivers. Setting up a medical alert system like Lifeline for your loved one ensures they have immediate help in emergencies while keeping you informed. Whether your loved one is active outside their home or spends a lot of time alone, our medical alert system offers comprehensive support, including:
- Emergency Assistance: Immediate help is available at the press of a button.
- Two-Way Communication: Direct communication lines for real-time interaction.
- 24/7 Monitoring: Continuous observation ensures constant security.
- Fall Detection Technology: Advanced technology identifies falls, even if your loved one can’t press the button.
- Caregiver Notifications: Alerts are sent directly to you in relevant situations, keeping you in the loop.
When your loved one presses their personal help button, they can connect with our help center and receive emergency services, even if they’re unable to communicate. As their primary caregiver, you will also be notified when necessary.
Effective Long-Distance Caregiving
Approaching long-distance caregiving involves considering when and where you can be physically present to assist your loved one. As you determine your schedule, exploring ways to supplement your absence is essential for contributing to their care, even when you can’t be there in person. Technology often provides the peace of mind and reliability you’re looking for.
At Lifeline Canada, we’re dedicated to supporting caregivers, whether they’re close by or far away, with devices that enhance their loved one’s independence and simplify the caregiving process. If you’d like to learn more about our services, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re here to help.
What You Should Do Now:
Here are 5 ways we can help you or your loved one live safer and more independently at home as long as possible:
- Get our latest tips, tools and resources straight to your inbox. Sign up for our monthly newsletter.
- Not sure if the time is right for a medical alert service? Take this quick assessment to find out.
- If you would like to learn how to live a healthier and safer lifestyle, go to our blog or visit our resources section, where you can read and download guides.
- Wondering which medical alert system company is the best for your needs? We’ve put together a guide comparing the best medical alert systems for you.