Not everyone will live close to the ones they love. Careers, marriages, travel … just about anything you might think of could lead people to new locations, new horizons. If you are one of those people (or your mother was) and you now live a hundred, several hundred, a thousand, or thousands of miles away from one another, that doesn’t mean you can’t be there for her now, when she really needs you. You are considered a long-distance caregiver.
When they have the chance, a long-distance family caregiver can call to check in, make sure the senior they love doesn’t need anything, and may be able to arrange transportation or physical help to stop by. It could be from a friend, another family member, or a neighbor.
By calling and checking in with this aging parent, your mother, for example, it may help you feel more comfortable and she may even enjoy the extra phone calls and assurance somebody is checking in to make sure everything is okay, but what could be missed?
A lot of things commonly get overlooked by long-distance caregivers.
It’s not deliberate. However, that doesn’t change the reality. A person who is attempting to support an aging family member or other loved one from a distance is only going to be limited to phone calls or, if the senior has the ability to connect through video chats, some of those teleconferencing options.
While you may be able to speak to your mother on a video chat, see how she looks, get a read on how she is feeling through nonverbal cues, that doesn’t change the fact a lot of things get overlooked.
You may not see the dishes piling up in the sink. You might not notice the expired foods sitting in the refrigerator or the lack of food in the cupboards or fridge.
You certainly wouldn’t notice your mother having extreme difficulty getting into and out of the shower or tub. Unless she’s on a video call with you while she does that, which is highly unlikely, you might not notice her clutching for dear life onto the towel bar, which could pull free from the wall at any moment.
You may not see the laundry piling up in her closet because she is too worried about making it down to the basement or another floor in the house where the washer and dryer sits.
You also have to take her word about her health, how she feels, appointments she has coming up or those she may have missed, and so forth.
Is there a solution that can still help you both?
Absolutely. It’s called home care. A home care agency can provide the support your elderly mother needs while you continue to take care of the things you must, even a hundred or a thousand miles away from her.
If you’re acting as a long-distance caregiver for an aging loved one, don’t let that get in the way of proper support. Rely on professional caregivers to be your hands, eyes, and ears on the ground, so to speak.