What does a long-distance caregiver do? How do I manage if my mom is in Chapel Hill or Durham and I am in New York? How many other people are trying to help out from a distance, like me?

April 20, 2013

If you live an hour or more away from a senior who needs home care, you can think of yourself as a long-distance caregiver.  This kind of care can take many forms—from helping with finances or money management to arranging for in-home care; from providing respite care for a primary caregiver to creating a plan in case of emergencies.  Many long-distance caregivers act as information coordinators, helping aging parents understand the confusing maze of new needs, including home care services, insurance benefits and claims, and durable medical equipment.

Caregiving, no matter where the caregiver lives, is often long-lasting and ever-expanding. For the long-distance caregiver, what may start out as an occasional social phone call to share family news can eventually turn into regular phone calls about managing household bills, getting medical information, and arranging for grocery deliveries.  What begins as a monthly trip to check on an elder may become a larger project to move her to a new home or nursing facility closer to where you live.

If you are a long-distance caregiver, you are definitely not alone. There may be as many as 7 million people in your same situation in the United States.  In the past, caregivers have been primarily working women in mid-life with other family responsibilities. That’s changing.  More and more men are getting involved; in fact, surveys show that men now represent almost 40 percent  of caregivers. Anyone, anywhere can be a long-distance caregiver. Gender, income, age, social status, employment—none of these prevent you from taking on at least some caregiving responsibilities and possibly feeling some of the satisfaction.


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

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