What is Long-Distance Caregiving?

You are 35 years old, and you are the primary caregiver for your 97-year-old grandmother. You both live in the New York metro area. Your business schedule requires that you spend one –week a month in LA. “Grammy” has full-time help. What could go wrong? Well…?

It’s 2 am, you are on a redeye and cannot be reached. Your grandmother has just had a stroke, and you are at 30,000 feet. What do you do? What could you do if you had known before you boarded?

That’s just one example of long-distance caregiving. Spoiler –alert: it’s all about peace of mind.

The National Institute of Health defines long-distance caregiving as “living an hour or more away from a person who needs care. This kind of care can take many forms—from helping with money management and arranging for in-home care to providing respite care for a primary caregiver and planning for emergencies.” Simply put, a child or a loved one who is separated by time, distance, or both is a long-distance caregiver.

In the 13 years that we have been helping our clients care for their loved ones, we have encountered various types of long-distance caregiving. Some are counties away, a state away, cross country, or overseas, where time-zone differences can add stress.

That reminds me of a while ago; we had a client taking care of her grandmother. They lived an hour plus away in adjoining states. There was a full-time caregiver in place. As I mentioned, Grandma was 97.

Once a month, our granddaughter/caregiver commuted to the West Coast for work. This circumstance ran smoothly for years until it didn’t. When it became necessary to put a third party in place to plan for emergencies, if only once a month when there was no family coverage, she never thought that plan would become so crucial. That decision was based on common sense. When the phone rang at 1:40 am, and the caregiver told our advocate that grandma had a stroke; where was her granddaughter? On a redeye on her way back to New York.

Having those third parties as part of the team made all the difference. The caregiver had already called 911. The ambulance was on its way. In the absence of family, the advocate stood in for her granddaughter at the hospital. The plane landed at 6 am. The granddaughter was immediately updated and assured that her grandmother was in good hands, which established immediate peace of mind. She met her grandmother at the hospital and spent the last hours of her grandmother’s life with her. Grandma had continuous support. The ‘long-distance’ caregiver had established a plan in her absence. The takeaway–planning preempts panic.

We have created a handout that we give to our clients called What is Long-Distance Caregiving.
Normally, we only give this to our clients but I want to offer it to you as well. Just complete the form below to receive a copy.

If you have any questions on how to navigate elder care and end-of-life issues, please give us a call at (914) 475-7225.

Helping you is our pleasure. Helping your parents is our privilege.


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