Unlike our grandparents, and maybe even parents’ generations, most of us are not born, raised, and living in the same home—or even city or state—as we grew up in as children. School, jobs, and other opportunities take us across the country and around the globe from where our parents and loved ones live. So what happens when someone we love gets sick? How can we care from a distance?
Keep in Touch.
It’s important to keep in regular contact with your loved one and those who are caring for him or her – especially if you are not the primary caregiver. By talking regularly with the primary caregiver, you not only know how caregiving is going, and what concerns there are, but you are able to talk through issues together and alleviate some stress. The primary caregiver will also appreciate your interest and support.
One way to easily keep in touch with your loved ones is by using Skype, which allows you to make free video calls over the Internet. Not only will you be able to talk with your loved one, but you’ll have the extra comfort of being able to see them too. Plus they can see you!
There is a wealth of information online and at your local library concerning cancer, Alzheimer’s and other diseases. Take the time to do some research to understand the diagnosis your loved one has been given. Since you can’t be at every doctor’s appointment, it is good to get a basic understanding of what to expect.
Our sponsored site, Living with Serious Illness is a great website that provides information on how to cope with a serious diagnosis. The site also offers resources for many illnesses as well as tips on how to handle them.
Know You’ll Have to Make Difficult Choices.
Caring for a loved one from a distance will involve difficult choices. Knowing you will have to balance work, family, and finances with your dying loved one will not always be easy. First know that you’re not alone! There are many people out there who are struggling with these same concerns. Second, know that you can’t do it all, and that’s okay! Make a list of priorities and tasks and only do what you’re able to do.
Caring from a Distance is an organization for long distance caregivers that give helpful tips for those not close to their loved ones. There are even tips and resources for military service members who are caring for their loved ones while stationed abroad.
Know your company’s time off policy as well as the regulations for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Don’t be afraid to ask if your company offers flexible work options in case you need to be with your loved one for an extended period of time, or if the company provides assistance to family caregivers.
Caring for your loved one from a distance is not an easy task, but there are people and resources to help you during this difficult time in your life.
By Brianne Pekar, Administrative Support for Casa de la Luz Hospice