NIH guide shrinks the miles between caregivers and aging parents

Not being in the same city as your aging parents can feel frustrating for the adult children. They care for their parents, love them and yet the distance can make them feel that they’re not doing all they can for them.

Today, that scenario is far more common than it might have been a few decades ago.

health-and-medical-background-with-doctor_fkfzcou_Such is the conundrum of the Long-distance caregiver. The National Institute on Aging refers to a Long-distance caregiver as someone who lives an hour or more away from someone who needs your help.

The reality is that well-organized family members can be effective no matter the distance.  To assist the growing number of people in this situation, the National Institute on Aging at NIH has developed a guidebook of sorts: So Far Away: Twenty Questions and Answers About Long-Distance Caregiving.

Organized in a question-and-answer format, this booklet addresses many commonly asked questions about the issue and offers ideas, suggestions, and observations from people with knowledge or experience in long-distance caregiving.

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Here are some highlights from the booklet:

  • Learn as much as you can about any treatments and resources.
  • Aim to set realistic goals and priorities for your visits.
  • When you visit, try to spend time actually visiting.
  • Stay in touch with family and caregivers who are on the scene.

Free copies of the booklet can be ordered via the NIH website.

When the care needs for your far away loved one increases to the point that you would like to have a clone of yourself standing nearby to interpret what is really going on, we frequently recommend to clients  that they hire a local care manager to be there and to help out. I tell clients that having one is like having a clone. You can find out more about them at www.caremanager.org.