There’s no greater struggle than having to manage the responsibilities of your own life while also trying to meet the needs of aging parents. Some of us choose to bear the weight all alone. While others lean on alternative solutions like respite care or nursing home placement. This battle is only compounded by the difficulty of trying to help our loved ones from a distance.
The result is usually tainted by long-distance caregiver guilt that can leave one feeling both emotional and overwhelmed. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be a permanent reality. Finding options to help lessen your burden while also making sure your parents’ needs are being met is possible, if you’re open minded and flexible.
Tip #1: Accept Your Limitations
According to a longitudinal study by the National Alliance for Caregiving, living just one hour away from an aging parent or grandparent can make care provision more difficult and complex. More than 40% of long-distance caregivers have to rearrange work schedules, many miss work regularly, and most spend a significant amount of time traveling back and forth. But even when you’re giving your all, it’s easy to feel as if you’re not doing enough. This is where long-distance caregiver guilt can rear its ugly head.
Acceptance is key here. Even superwoman (or man) would have trouble managing two households miles apart. Accepting that you will do what you can, but might not be there to help with dinner every night or attend every doctor appointment is key to positive mental health.
Tip #2: Find Other Options
To combat these feelings, make a list of what you’re doing currently and what you feel you should be doing. Ask your loved one about any needs that they think aren’t being met and add those to the list as well. Then, look for ways to cut back in some areas and increase in others. For example, if you’re spending a significant about of income traveling to see your loved one regularly, it might be more beneficial to spend some of that time doing other things (working, raising your children, etc.) and allocate the travel money to respite care. Because respite care is just temporary and not permanent, it can be the perfect ‘break’ for both parent and long-distance caregiver.
Tip #3: Stay Connected
While you’re away, temporarily or while respite care is in place, find unique and creative ways to stay connected with your loved one. Although some parents may be resistant to it at first, technology is one of the best ways to remain linked from afar.
Smartphones and tablets with WIFI capability allow for Face-timing and being able to ‘see’ each other, even if not in person. If a source of long-distance caregiver guilt is that you can’t be as hands-on with medical care as would like, electronic medical records can help you stay in the loop. There are even products like long-distance touch lamps and bracelets that can keep you connected regardless of if you’re loved one is aging in place or using respite care.
Tip #4: Foster Independence
Believe it or not, you living so far away from your parents may be a positive for them in some respects. Not having someone there to make every decision, cook every meal, and handle all of life’s duties can actually foster much-needed independence. Encourage them to complete daily care activities (combing hair, showering) and physical activity (exercising) independently whenever possible. For the tasks that can’t be achieved alone safely, you may need to enlist the help of others.
Tip #5: Enlist the Help of Others
Which brings us to our final tip: don’t go at it alone. You must take care of your own needs. And although you may be the only caregiver currently, it doesn’t have to be this way. If you have family who can help with some duties, ask for help! If this isn’t an option, you may have to take a hard look at hiring a professional caregiver, even if just for respite care. Although this is never an easy decision, Cranberry Home Care has the trustworthy respite caregivers you need.
For more information on the reliable senior respite care services, we provide, visit www.cranberryhomecare.com now.