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How to help when you are not close

April 23, 2013

What can I really do from far away?  My sister lives pretty close to my parents in Chapel Hill and has gradually been doing more and more for them.   I’m halfway across the country.  I’d like to help them and my sister, but I don’t feel comfortable just jumping in.

Many long-distance caregivers provide emotional support and occasional respite to a primary caregiver. Staying in contact with your parents by phone or email might also take some pressure off your sister.  Long-distance caregivers can play a part in arranging for professional caregivers, hiring home health and nursing aides, or locating care in an assisted living facility or nursing home (also known as a skilled nursing facility).

Some long-distance caregivers find they can be helpful by handling things online—for example, researching health problems or medicines, paying bills, or keeping family and friends updated. Some long-distance caregivers help a parent pay for care, while others step in to manage finances.

Caregiving is not easy for anyone, not for the caregiver and not for the care recipient. There are sacrifices and adjustments for everyone. When you don’t live where the care is needed, it may be especially hard to feel that what you are doing is enough and that what you are doing is important. It often is.

Acorn wishes to acknowledge the National Institute on Aging for this valuable content.

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