Many caregivers today are part of the sandwich generation- a group that is simultaneously raising children and caring for senior parents as well. Many adult children are also now living significant distances from their families of origin. Juggling multiple responsibilities is always a challenge but doing so while ensuring care for a senior loved one who lives in a different state can be challenging. It often takes creativity and proactivity to make this kind of situation work. Some creative ways to manage long distance caregiving situations and stay in touch with your loved one include:
- Cash in frequent flyer miles- frequent flyer miles offer a way to make flights affordable
- Make frequent contact-unlimited long distance, texting and emails allow for inexpensive regular contact
- Keep a journal- sometimes it is difficult to notice subtle changes in a loved one’s behavior. Keeping a journal during phone conversations, interactions and after visits helps you stay informed and organized on medical issues, personality changes and progress.
- Make the most of your visits-spend time with your loved one enjoying activities, meeting with caregivers and attending doctor’s appointments. Be aware of any changes in behavior and health conditions so that you can assess the situation and figure out what needs may be unmet.
- Set up a support network-recruit friends, neighbors and relatives who live close to your loved one who can routinely stop in and check on the situation. Consider setting up a schedule so that someone is stopping in and visiting on a daily basis. Get feedback often.
- Video chat-today’s technology makes staying in touch much easier. Teach your older adult how to use the technology or have a caregiver or friend help with utilization. Daily or weekly chats help improve communication, keep you up to date on what is happening and make you feel connected to your loved one.
Although long distance caregiving is difficult, these tips may help you manage the situation.