Worrisome signs of your loved ones’ frailty, progressive memory loss, or the decline in health require more and more of your attention. But what if you live far away?
Whether you live an hour away, or in another country, chances are you’ve been transitioning into the role of a long-distance caregiver without even noticing.
Signs you’ve become a long-distance caregiver
Many of us fail to plan ahead for how aging parents will become dependent on us, their adult children, as they age.
Whether you live 100 km or 10,000 km away, this dynamic can be challenging to manage as it inevitably unfolds. Guilt can quickly also become a factor that you need to be mindful of so it doesn’t eat away at you as you go.
1. Helping with administrative tasks
If you regularly spend time helping your loved one with sorting out their finances like budgeting or managing bill payment.
Perhaps you have more than one tax report you have to complete during tax season?
2. Arranging for in-home care
Do you arrange and manage for in-home care of professional caregivers such as nursing aides or a primary caregiver? A person to take on most of the everyday caregiving responsibilities.
If you, like me, have aging relatives in a country like Greece, where the elderly go into the care of family, you know how time-consuming it is to make all the arrangements. Hiring the right fulltime caregiver you can trust, finding, and getting all the equipment, making sure the fridge is stocked, and the list goes on and on.
3. Emotional support and occasional care
Most of us probably provide emotional support. Not only for those who are aging but also to the rest of the family that wants updates and stay informed.
Perhaps you also serve as an information coordinator? Researching health problems, medicines, or navigate through the maze of care needs, to gain more control of your loved one’s safety.
4. Planning for emergencies
Do you have a loved one that you’ve already created a plan and paperwork for in case of an emergency? Whom will they contact and who will nurse them back to health if they need it?
Even if your loved ones are currently healthy, the most valuable work you can do as a long-distance caregiver is encouraging them to stay active, as this might prevent them from emergencies such as falls.
Long distance care(giv)ing
Chances are, if you’ve made it this far down the blog, you likely tick more than one of these boxes. Maybe you even do more than one of these, for more than just one relative.
Caregiving at a distance presents very real challenges as well as emotional ones. For one, I’ve become fairly well acquainted with the feeling of guilt about not doing enough or spending adequate time with my family. The 10 hour time difference makes staying in touch a challenge too.
Life integration challenges
As a second generation expat, and long-distance carer, I’m conscious of how technological advances have made it a lot easier to stay connected to family while still living the life that’s right for me.
Fortunately for our generation, the choice is no longer an all-or-nothing, between abandoning our lives, or abandoning mom and dad to whatever befalls them.
With low-cost flights, remote working and flexible hours, workarounds are now far more attainable.
Needs change with age / time
Over time, as our family member’s needs change, so do our roles as long-distance caregivers. I have no idea what the future holds five years down the line, let alone 10 or more when my parents will both be in the 80s.
Hopefully, you also have help from a sibling, cousin, or uncle on the ground that helps carry a brunt of the work.
Mon Tonton - for long-distance families
Regardless of what your relationship is with your parents or family member that you think about and worry for; you’re here reading this because you too have more than once thought about how to maintain relationships and provide support with family while living far away.
At Mon Tonton, we’re working on discovering how we can rely on technology to help them perform caregiving duties while well aware that there isn’t anything we can do to replace being there in person.
Whatever comes, it’s essential we keep telling ourselves that we’re doing the best we can. Hopefully, the Mon Tonton community can also help remind you that you’re not alone.