Be Honest With Yourself
Caregiving can be a very stressful experience, but especially from a distance. You may experience emotional strain because of feelings of helplessness or guilt at not being able to do more. Sometimes long-distance care-givers schedule several trips within a short period of time, resulting in possible physical exhaustion, conflicts with job and family responsibilities and a depletion of financial reserves.
As a long-distance caregiver, you must be honest with yoursclf. Recognize the strain you're under and give yourself credit for doing the best that you can in identifying, coordinating and monitoring sources of support. You personally cannot provide from a distance the care your relative needs.
Arranging informal and formal supports for your older relative may not be an easy task if your past relationship with that person has been less than ideal. Honest, open discussion can help. Explain your concerns to your relative and listen to what he or she has to say.
If necessary, you may want to seek out a professional family counselor to help you develop a plan of action acceptable to all parties.
Some long-distance caregivers think that the situation will be easier to handle if the relative moves closer, possibly into their own homes. If you're considering relocating a relative, consider the following questions carefully:
· Does your relative want to relocate? Many older persons don't want to share a household with other family members. Talk to your relative and find out what he or she thinks.
· Does your relative have social contacts in your area? Long-standing community ties are difficult to replace. If your relative is limited in mobility, developing new contacts may be highly unlikely.
What type of relationship did the two of you have in the past? Unresolved conflicts need to be addressed before your relative moves. Be realistic about your previous relationship. If it's impossible for you and your relative to live together, accept the reality of the situation and make other plans.
Whatever arrangement you make-and whether your caregiving remains long distant or not, you need to keep in mind how important a role you're playing.
You're helping your loved one live as normal a life as possible. And whenever possible, remember to extend a little caregiving to yourself.
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