How to be a Long-Distance Caregiver

Most grown children often wish to help with the care of their aging parents, but if they don’t live close, they may not know where to start. One thing that you can do, if you’re visiting with them, is to attend a doctor’s appointment with your parent. Of course, you’ll need their permission first, but doing so can help you better understand where your parent is in regard to his or her health. It can also be beneficial to schedule your own appointment with your parent’s physician to talk about any concerns or questions you might have about their health. Again, make sure you have permission from your parent first.

You can ask your parents to complete a release form that will allow the doctor to discuss his or her healthcare with you. Also, make sure that the form information is up to date and that there’s a copy in your parent’s records, as well as keeping a back-up copy for your own files too.

If you do make an appointment, be sure to have a list of questions (if you have any), and take notes on what the doctor recommends you do in each situation. These notes can be helpful later on to either give to the primary caregiver, or to remind the parent what the doctor says regarding their medications or conditions. Also, when the doctor asks a question, do not answer for your parent unless they have specifically asked you to do so. Always be sure to talk to both the doctor and your parent too. Remember, too, to leave the room if necessary. It is important to remember to be respectful of your parent’s privacy, just as you would want someone to be of your own.

Finally, you can inquire about any community resources the doctor might be able to recommend. For instance, larger medical practices or hospitals may have a social worker on-hand that you can ask to talk with. He or she might be able to provide you with valuable information about any community resources that may be available to your aging parent.

It can be understandably difficult to take care of your loved ones if you don’t live nearby, but these are some ways in which you don’t have to always be close to take part in their care. And you can be reassured that they are getting the best care options available to them. It may not seem like much, but it can make a world of difference in the long-run, as many people simply aren’t able to just pack up and go whenever medical or other health issues arise.