Each year, millions of Americans selflessly donate their time and talents to care for aging-in-place friends and relatives. And although serving as a family caregiver is highly gratifying, these compassionate individuals must overcome daily stressors as they battle physical, mental, and emotional fatigue. To make matters worse, caregiving challenges become even more complex when trying to perform your duties from a distance. If that describes you, here’s how to ensure your loved one gets the long-distance caregiving and nurturing they deserve.
Long-Distance Caregivers Face These Hurdles
A long-distance caregiver is defined as someone who lives more than an hour away from the care recipient. If your loved one’s home is in Covington but you live in Bedford, you qualify as a long-distance caregiver.
According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, approximately 15% of all informal caregivers are of the long-distance variety. Since the average long-distance caregiver is asked to juggle a career and household along with their caregiving duties, feelings like guilt, worry, frustration, and resentment are common.
Here are some additional facts about long-distance caregivers:
- One in four is the sole or primary care provider.
- They travel an average distance of 451 miles to provide care.
- They spend an average of $392 a month on out-of-pocket expenses.
- Over half still visit the care recipient at least once a month.
How to Care for Loved Ones from a Distance
No matter where you live, using these caregiving tips will help ensure that your loved one can age in place safely and comfortably with dignity and respect:
Communicate openly and often
Using an online chat service, schedule monthly or quarterly meetings with fellow care team members, during which everyone can share their feelings, observations, and goals. In addition to keeping your siblings updated, stay in touch with your care recipient so you can assess their changing needs and provide the level of long-distance caregiving that’s needed.
Make a list of contacts and resources
Being overly prepared as a caregiver can be key to an aging loved one’s overall health and well-being. Create a list of nearby friends and neighbors who can be contacted in an emergency, along with your senior’s primary physicians. Also, organize vital information like medication lists, financial records, medical records, and legal documents so that they will be easily accessible in the event of a crisis.
Maximize your time together
Seeing your loved one in person can reveal so much about their daily needs and if they are being met. While there, take note of factors like whether they can keep up their appearance, hygiene, and household.
Check to see if the fridge and pantry are well stocked with healthy foods, if bills are getting paid and finances managed, and if they are still able to get out of the house for social activities. It’s also important to plan out your visits in advance so that you can take full advantage of your time together.
Hire a professional
One of the key aspects of serving as a family caregiver is recognizing your limitations and the fact you can’t always provide the level of care that’s needed. In situations when you are the only care provider or your loved one’s health takes a turn for the worse, it may become necessary to seek outside assistance from trained healthcare professionals.
Online resources like the Area Agency on Aging or the Eldercare Locator can be invaluable when you find yourself in a pinch. For example, you can use those online resources to hire a professional in-home caregiver from a reputable provider in your loved one’s area.
Finding the Best Home Care Provider in Virginia
With all the home care providers out there, narrowing down your search isn’t easy. Using these tips will help you make a better-informed decision when your loved one’s quality of life weighs in the balance:
Ask for referrals
Sometimes, knowing where to find home care providers is half the battle. Ask your friends, coworkers, neighbors, and relatives for referrals if you’ve never hired an agency before. If you live far away from your aging loved one, a quick Google search can pull up the names of home care companies in their community.
Read client testimonials
In addition to recommendations from trusted sources, you’ll also need to research what others say about each agency. Online reviews from clients and their families also reveal much about an agency’s reputation, along with testimonials from current and former employees.
Reputable home care companies also conduct drug tests and extensive background checks on their employees, including criminal and driving records. While you’re at it, check to see if the agency meets all your state’s certification requirements.
Research their services
Initially, your loved one may only need a little help performing activities of daily living (ADLs), like light housekeeping, meals, or bathing. But if they were recently diagnosed with a serious illness or dementia, your loved one may need specialized care to maintain their independent lifestyle.
Look for a provider that offers a full menu of in-home services, including dementia care, post-surgical care, transportation, and other options. It’s also prudent to determine if the company provides ongoing staff training and if their caregivers are certified per state requirements.
Find out how much it will cost
Contrary to what you might think, Medicare does not cover elective home care services like personal care, private duty care, or homemaker services. While choosing an in-home care provider should not exclusively hinge on price, it will inevitably play a role. First, determine how much your loved one can afford based on their monthly budget.
In most cases, the cost of care relies on the number of hours the caregiver spends with their client, along with the type of services they provide. Before making your final decision, research each company’s hourly rates, along with how much they charge for daily and overnight visits.
Screen the caregivers yourself
Once you’ve narrowed your provider search down to two or three options, proceed to the interview phase. Schedule a screening interview for your loved one with each potential caregiver to ensure that their personality and work ethic align with yours.
During the interview, don’t hesitate to ask the supervisor for references from former or current clients, along with proof of insurance and other certifications. This is also the perfect time to discuss your loved one’s care plan and how the agency would meet their changing needs.
These are other questions to ask each provider:
- What’s your backup plan in the event of an emergency or illness?
- Will the primary caregiver be providing most of the care?
- How do you measure the competency and performance of your caregivers?
- How do you determine if a caregiver is a good fit for a client?
- Do you perform periodic drug tests on your employees?
- Is a registered nurse (RN) or equivalent case manager available 24/7?
Flexible Home Care Solutions for Seniors in Virginia
When you or your loved one need assistance, contact AmeriCare Plus. While proudly serving families in Alleghany, Bedford, Charlottesville, Gloucester, Lexington, Mecklenburg, Orange, Pulaski, and Tidewater, Virginia. We are a fully licensed and insured home care provider with highly trained professionals who are experts at delivering the nurturing our clients need. As an extended family in your senior’s home, our compassionate caregivers can perform duties like companion care, dementia care, Life Coordinated, live-in-care, personal care, Anthem Personal Home Helper, post-operative care, respite care, and veteran services.
Our agency’s focus is maintaining your loved one’s quality of life, as well as their dignity, self-esteem, and independence. For your added convenience, all our in-home services can be individually personalized into an affordable package when and where you need them! Please visit us at www.americarepluspc.com now to learn more about us or schedule a FREE initial consultation for a senior in our service area.