We can more easily find information or support for primary caregivers who live with or provide daily or weekly care for an aging parent spouse or other older adult, but that’s not necessarily the same for the long distance caregiver. Today’s families are often scattered throughout the country and even the world making it much more difficult when parents become ill and in need of care. Therefore, the once a month or perhaps the Thanksgiving or Christmas visit becomes an even more crucial time to get a clear picture of what the immediate needs are and to try to anticipate and prepare for the inevitability of changes ahead. Perhaps with little time to take care of the most necessary details, your visit may become consumed with duties leaving little time to delight in the quality conversations and reminiscing that is so essential to your family. Unfortunately that is so often the case for distant caregivers who are separated by miles but with their thoughts and hearts still so in need of connecting.Careful planning can help you effectively use your time with your loved ones. It's important to find out about the tasks you might be able to assist with during your trip. Here are few things to consider on your next visit, especially if you are a long distance caregiver.
- You may want to schedule medical or dental appointments during your visit in order to hear first hand about their health, ask questions to be more pro-active and take notes on any recommendations.
- Perhaps during a particular trip you may also want to make an appointment with an attorney or financial advisor to ensure all their paper work is in order.
- Your visit is also a time to look for any signs of significant problems. Check to see how well they are managing daily tasks such as medications or getting the proper nutrition.
- Are your parents still driving? If so, then get in the car with them and observe how well they are managing. Is it time to talk about putting away the keys for their safety as well as the safety of others?
- Take special notice of personal grooming, behavioral changes by being observant and listening carefully for any red flags.
Careful and deliberate planning of your next trip must also include, setting aside quality time doing the things your elderly parents enjoy. Don't get too caught up in the "doing" and forget to leave some time for just being together and enjoying one another's company. The quality time spent together visiting and catching up with one another in person will be what makes this time together memorable and delightful for everyone.
Home for the Holidays presented by Maria Wellisch, RN, LNFA is a must see video for all caregivers. It highlights the important areas to look for and gives great tips for long distance caregivers who are making a trip home to visit their elderly parents for the holidays, or anytime, to help make the most of your visit.If you're looking for a comprehensive resource for family caregivers, check out our online Family Caregiver Guide.