Long Distance Caregiving

Long Distance Caregiving
Caregivers generally serve as an energy socket not to just to the person in their care, but to the rest of the family and to people at work and friends and neighbors, in other words, the go-to person, the “giver”. However, sometimes energy outlets get overloaded and shut down because there is a surge and then they blow a fuse. This is why caregivers need to ease up on their special type of guilt of never doing enough by carving out time for the self to have fun and fulfillment. Everyone has a right to an authentic life. However, what about the long distance caregiver? This long distance caregiver is always internally guilt-ridden, torn apart by not being “there”. And don’t forget the worn-out family members who are pointing an accusing figure to stoke the fire! “I do all the work, what do you do except send the money and live your life? You have no idea what it is like!”

If you are a caregiver from a distance for an Alzheimer’s patient, whether this means the patient is being taken care of at home by another family member, a live-in companion or at a nursing home, you will feel guilty. How do you connect and supervise? How do you help those bearing the brunt of the burden to lighten their load?
  • Telephone and email give you instant access to surrogate caregivers as well as medical personnel; stay connected. Ask questions and advocate by phone.
  • Speak directly to the Alzheimer’s patient on the phone. Sing to the patient on the phone. Many patients who cannot speak or carry on a conversation, miraculously sing the words of an old song.
  • You can physically visit by taking vacation days to relieve family members who are there all the time to give them a much-needed vacation.
  • If you need to hire a companion or put an Alzheimer’s patient in a nursing home, arrange to interview all the applicants when you are there, checking references beforehand and mostly, going with your gut feeling when you meet them. If you cannot physically be there, call a bonded agency to help you find the right caregiver and interview the applicants over the phone and speak to all the individual references. Ask neighbors to spot check for you and serve as your eyes.
  • Recruit a social worker to check on your loved one with a trained eye.
  • Call on the local university and even high school seniors who need to do community service for their “academic resume” to socialize and check on your loved one for you.
  • Send little gifts like CD’s from the Alzheimer’s patient’s time-period to fill the house with music, sound therapy.

For more information on caregiving read my book, Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life. To listen to archived radio shows with guest experts visit Turn On Your Inner Light Radio Show

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