Supporting a person with a diagnosis such as cancer from a long distance often presents unique challenges.
How to best manage long distance caregiving?
As navigation is more important than speed, open and honest discussion becomes an essential first step.
Family meetings with your loved one and other key people will allow everyone to share their views and will help you decide how best to proceed.
Keeping in mind that there is no one right way to be a caregiver, here are some suggestions from the Family Caregiver Alliance that might apply to your situation:
- If you haven't visited recently, consider doing so as soon as possible. Take note of possible problem areas such as nutrition, safety, driving ability, medications, finances and physical or emotional illness.
- Assess the level of care needed and consider all options before relocating your loved one. In-home services and local resources may provide necessary support while permitting the autonomy he or she desires.
- Set up a support system for their safety. For example, consider starting a Share the Care team, made up of friends and neighbors in the area who have offered to help.
- Make sure legal and financial affairs including Advance Directives are in place and up to date; and that you know where to locate critical documents.
- Recognize and acknowledge family dynamics and your own limits. Make an honest assessment of your strengths and limitations both mentally and financially. Remember your loved one’s care is a team effort.
When first entering the unfamiliar world of long distance caregiving, one might not see the personal rewards ahead. But they are there, along with challenges and supportive resources.