long-distance caregiving by Daria Horbal, Pharmacist.

As parents age, you may find yourself in the role of a caregiver and if you live far away, you may need to figure out how to do that from a distance.

There are many tasks that a long-distance caregiver can accomplish in coordination with nearby support people:

  • Helping to pay bills, and managing finances and insurance claims,
  • Arranging for in-home care,
  • Ordering medications, medical equipment, or other necessary supplies,
  • Coordinating relevant health information, overseeing insurance benefits, and monitoring changing needs,
  • Helping to organize health and financial powers of attorneys and living wills,
  • Organizing and updating important paperwork and records,
  • Researching available long-term care options.

Staying connected from a distance can be managed by:

  • Creating a document or spreadsheet listing important phone numbers and email addresses and keeping it current,
  • Coordinating dates with other caregivers using a shared calendar,
  • With permission, attending any telehealth appointments,
  • Participating remotely in conference calls or video meetings with other care personnel,
  • Teaching older parents how to text and make video calls, if necessary
  • Setting up an email account for them and teaching them about internet safety.

The long-distance caregiver also plays a role in supporting the nearby primary caregiver by:

  • Asking what would be most helpful for them,
  • Calling or emailing often to lend a supportive ear,
  • Going to visit the older person for a few days to allow the primary caregiver time away,
  • Organizing regular respite care,
  • Providing support to the primary caregiver if the older person moves into long-term care.

Long distance caregiving is possible. But as you can see from my lists above, it requires meticulous planning, local support, and your readiness to reach out for help.

By Daria Horbal, Pharmacist.