Tag Archives: Caregiver Tools

Making the Most out of Your Long-Distance Caregiving Role

With over 7 million adults providing long-distance care to their loved ones, Americans are increasingly seeking ways to make the distance-gap less cumbersome.  Providing care while living in the same city as your parent is taxing enough, but living an hour or more away only exasperates the doubt and concerns that arise when it comes to your parent receiving proper care.

Managing a loved one’s health is never easy, regardless of the location, however there are ways to feel more prepared and productive when you are providing long-distance care.

1. Stay Informed: When it comes to your parent’s health, knowledge really is power. Research as much as you can regarding your parent’s illness and treatment. By knowing exactly what is going on with your parent you will be better able to prevent crises, and anticipate what is coming next. Assembling a notebook detailing the disease, medication, doctor’s appointments and changes in health is your biggest resource. Make copies of your research and disperse it to all those involved with the care of your loved one. It is also critical to make sure at least one family member has written permission to receive medical or financial information.

2. Documents You Should Include in your Notebook: Being an effective caregiver means keeping your information straight and up-to-date. Gathering your parent’s personal, health, financial and legal information can be extremely frustrating and time consuming. Assembling this information in a different city only adds to the stress. However, having your parent’s information is a priceless tool, you will feel more at ease about your parent’s condition and be able to respond better in an emergency. Gathering all of this information will probably take more than one visit. Find the most important information first and work on filling the gaps as you go. If your parent lives with a primary caregiver ask them to aid in finding relevant documents and information. Throughout the information gathering process it is important to be aware of your parent’s privacy and make sure they do not feel as though you are invading it. Explain to them that you are not trying to impose on their private life, rather you are preparing their personal information in case a situation arises so all the proper documents will be readily accessible.

3. Don’t Feel Overwhelmed by Visits: The most important aspect of a visit with your loved one is the planning you do before you arrive. With a limited amount of time available to you, it is easy to feel overwhelmed when it comes to visiting your parent. Prioritize what you and your loved one would like to do ahead of time. Your parent may need help around the house, or have errands they cannot complete on their own. You may also want to visit with their physician. Do not try to accomplish everything in one weekend, set your priorities and plan accordingly. It is also important to remember that your trip is not all business. Schedule time for activities you both enjoy, take time to relax and cherish each others company.

4. Involve Siblings in Care: When it comes to caring for parents, one of the most challenging tasks is deciding how to divide up tasks among siblings. While one sibling is usually left with the majority of the caregiving duties, it is important to establish early on what each sibling is willing or capable of doing. Having this conversation early will prevent many headaches in the future. If you are not the primary caregiver, never underestimate the power of offering appreciation, positive reinforcement and reassurance to the primary caregiver.

5. Stay in Touch: It is important to keep in constant contact with your loved one, so they have someone to confide in, and you receive the proper assurance they are being well taken care of. Families can schedule conference calls with doctors, nursing staff, or assisted living facility members to check in on their parent’s health.  You may also want to seek the aid of friends and nearby relatives who can visit your parent and report back to you, as they can often provide a more accurate interpretation of the situation.

 While most long-distance caregivers serve as a support mechanism and occasional respite for a primary caregiver, their role is still a vital cog in their loved one’s overall care. Long distance caregivers who remain active and present in their loved one’s life get more satisfaction out of their role, while alleviating some of the fears associated with living away from a loved one requiring care.

Elderly Assistance Organizations

Organizations that Lend a Helping Hand

While at times being a caregiver may seem like an isolating job, you should not have to go it alone. And fortunately there are numerous resources available to aid both you and your loved one. While there are hundreds of organizations in operation to help the elderly, here are just a few to get you started:

Nutrition.gov lists nationwide food assistance programs for the elderly including the food and nutrition service which provides incentives to states for the effective delivery of nutritious meals to older adults, the Seniors’ Farmers Market Nutrition Program and the Elderly Nutrition Program.

Meals on Wheels is America’s oldest and largest national organization for local, community-based Senior Nutrition programs. Located in all 50 states, Meals on Wheels’ mission is to make sure no senior goes hungry.

Eldercare Locator is a public service that aids in finding local agencies in the U.S. that can help caregivers and the elderly access home and community-based services. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code to explore anything from assisted living facilities to caregiver support services.

BenefitsCheckUp.org provides information for the elderly regarding their eligibility for benefits from existing federal, state and local programs. Benefits range from heating and energy assistance to income supplements.

GovBenefits.gov hosts information on government programs your care receiver can utilize.

• The LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) assists qualified low-income and elderly Americans with utility payments for the winter months. Each state receives federal funds which they then dole out. LIHEAP usually sends the payments directly to the utility company, making the program extremely convenient. Apply early as LIHEAP is on a first come-first serve basis.

Caregiving is a big responsibility and sometimes a daunting task. Take advantage of these resources!

Elderly Assistance Organizations

Organizations that Lend a Helping Hand

While at times being a caregiver may seem like an isolating job, you should not have to go it alone. And fortunately there are numerous resources available to aid both you and your loved one. While there are hundreds of organizations in operation to help the elderly, here are just a few to get you started:

Nutrition.gov lists nationwide food assistance programs for the elderly including the food and nutrition service which provides incentives to states for the effective delivery of nutritious meals to older adults, the Seniors’ Farmers Market Nutrition Program and the Elderly Nutrition Program.

Meals on Wheels is America’s oldest and largest national organization for local, community-based Senior Nutrition programs. Located in all 50 states, Meals on Wheels’ mission is to make sure no senior goes hungry.

Eldercare Locator is a public service that aids in finding local agencies in the U.S. that can help caregivers and the elderly access home and community-based services. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code to explore anything from assisted living facilities to caregiver support services.

BenefitsCheckUp.org provides information for the elderly regarding their eligibility for benefits from existing federal, state and local programs. Benefits range from heating and energy assistance to income supplements.

GovBenefits.gov hosts information on government programs your care receiver can utilize.

• The LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) assists qualified low-income and elderly Americans with utility payments for the winter months. Each state receives federal funds which they then dole out. LIHEAP usually sends the payments directly to the utility company, making the program extremely convenient. Apply early as LIHEAP is on a first come-first serve basis.

Caregiving is a big responsibility and sometimes a daunting task. Take advantage of these resources!

Survival tips for the Sandwich Generation

Here are some things that can help you stay sane through all the nonsense life brings.

  1. Alone time is crucial – Taking a break from everyday life is important. Spending a little time each day focused on you can really make a difference in the overall stress level of everyday life. Trying getting up a little earlier and enjoying fresh juice while reading your favorite magazine. Or after a long day of work, unwind by taking your dog on a walk. The gym is another excellent place to unwind if you can find a cardio machine away from all the noise. Put on your head phones and walk a few miles, unwinding your mind from the days’ struggles.
  2. Family Support – As with most things in life, if you don’t have your family supporting your decisions it probably won’t go over well. Finding support and comfort within your family ties helps to make sense of the crazy stuff that happens every day. Rely on your spouse and kids to help your through your problems and create a time and place to discuss family dynamics on a routine basis. This will help solve a lot of at home issues while also bringing the family closer, building a better relationship between all parties involved.
  3. Faith – Everyone has their own definition and experience of faith.  What faith brings is a sense of commitment, fellowship and an overall feeling of comfort and security knowing that you have something to rely on other than the tangible factors in this world. If praying or meditation helps you throughout the day, do it. Increase the amount of time you spend on your faith and you will see it reciprocated in your everyday life.
  4. Employment Benefits – When it comes to today’s corporate policies, they have changed from years past. If you have added stress from taking care of a sick or again parent, many companies will provide some sort of leniency in order to provide for your loved ones needs. If you feel stressed about missing work to take your sick mother to her doctor’s appointment, just ask. You may be surprised at the new policies!
  5. Professional Assistance – When concerns do arise because of taking care of a sick loved one, or in general, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor or other professionals about your problem. Expressing yourself helps not only you, but everyone around you understand what is going on and how they can help make your life easier

The overall goal is to survive! Remember that having a positive attitude and not stressing over the small stuff in life will help. Eventually, everyone needs help in life and equipping yourself with quality relationships will provide balance as you care for yourself and all those around you.