If you live in another city or in another state
from your elder(s), you may find yourself in a long-distance
caregiving role which can be both challenging and stressful.
You may find yourself commuting back and forth from your
elder's home which may cause financial, physical and emotional
strain. You may feel angry, guilty, exhausted, worry a lot,
and that you can't do more. Remember to tell yourself you are
doing the best you can. These feelings are normal and common
under the circumstances.
During visits to your
elders, observe if your elder(s) is eating properly, paying
bills, washing clothes, cleaning house, and whether there are
safety issues. After you analyze the situation, talk with your
elders and together figure out what your elder can do and what
help may be needed. Sometimes you may find that your opinions
may be different. If this is the case, you need to be gentle,
but specific about what area or areas you think your elder
could use some help. If you agree on at least one service that
your elder needs, begin with that service. It is important for
your elder to feel in control and able to make decisions.
It is best to plan
for the future finding out what kinds of services and programs
are available where your elders live. Are there any family or
friends or agencies that provide the service? Call the local
senior center for information. Gather information on housing,
transportation and home care agencies. If the situation calls
for more than a few services, you may want professional
intervention. A service coordinator, care or case manager can
help coordinate services and can provide you with updated
information. If you hire a private geriatric case manager, it
is paid for out of private resources. You may also want to
stay in contact with other family members, friends, neighbor
or minister and get their feedback on your elder.
If you think it would
be better for your elder to live in the same city with you or
within your own household, consider the following:
Does your elder want
to move to another city? Would your elder live in your same
household or another household? Many times, elders do not want
to live in the same household as their adult children. What
housing options are available for your elder in your city? How
will the housing be paid for?
How independent is
your elder? Would your elder be able to make new friendships
in a different city? It may be very difficult to leave old
friends and make new friends.
Is there any
unresolved conflict with your past relationship? If so, this
must be resolved before moving an elder.
Make sure you stay in
communication with your elder, either by a weekly telephone
call or a letter because your emotional support is so
important. Helping them make decisions or you intervening in
their situation is a way of providing caregiving.