Many adult children must help from a distance when their older parents and other relatives need assistance. The task can be difficult, stressful, time consuming and costly. Caregivers who live far from those in need of care face difficult questions and issues, such as:
Managing Family, Care and Career: Often, long-distance caregivers have families of their own and careers to manage while arranging care from afar. And since most long-distance caregivers cannot visit frequently or provide care in the home, the situation can become quite difficult financially and practically. Despite the best intentions, adult children usually end up feeling guilty that they cannot spend more time with their parents and provide the care necessary. They also may feel overwhelmed by the challenges of arranging services long distance, especially if this role is new to them.
Knowing When to Go: One of the most difficult aspects of long-distance care is knowing when you're needed and when to make the trip to see your parents. The phone is often of little help. One parent may not admit to a problem while the other is overly concerned. Your perceptions and preconceived ideas may also cloud the issue.
Contemplating a Move: Some long-distance caregivers think that the situation will be easier to manage if a parent moves closer, possibly into the adult child's home. Yet many older people don't want to move at all, or they don't want to live with their adult children and their families. Those who do move face losing old friends and trying to make new ones. And for those who do decide to move in with their adult children, a history of conflicts may make living together again challenging.
Choosing a Main Caregiver: Also chief among common dilemmas that adult children face as caregivers is figuring who will take the lead caregiving role and how other siblings will contribute or help out. This may cause friction between siblings so an open dialogue is integral as difficult as that can sometimes be.
Finding Resources: Finally, long-distance caregivers often have trouble finding resources and services local to their parents. This can become frustrating and extremely time consuming. Knowing where to look and who to ask can make all the difference.
To help navigate these tricky caregiving issues, check out our list of helpful tips.