Stay on top of things from afar

Get started with long-dis­tance care­giv­ing through this sim­ple guide

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES NATION -

Tak­ing care of your older par­ents or rel­a­tives when you stay far away comes with its own set of chal­lenges. You can be an ef­fec­tive care­giver and not feel guilty about not be­ing by their side 24/7 by fol­low­ing cer­tain steps. If you ever find your­self in a long- dis­tance care­giver’s role, fol­low these tips: When you’re car­ing for some­one from a dis­tance, you may find your­self on the phone far more than usual, be­tween check­ing in with health care providers, sched­ul­ing ap­point­ments and keep­ing fi­nances in or­der. But it’s also im­por­tant to reg­u­larly check in with the per­son who is ill; don’t wait for them to call you when there is a prob­lem. Check­ing in reg­u­larly, at a time when it is con­ve­nient for you, helps you stay in con­trol of your sched­ule and time, and pro­vides the op­por­tu­nity to pre­vent a cri­sis. If you are for­tu­nate enough to have a sib­ling or other close fam­ily mem­bers, di­vide the care­giv­ing tasks. This could mean that one per­son fo­cuses on fi­nances while an­other han­dles the med­i­cal as­pects. It’s hard enough keep­ing track of our own sched­ules, let alone man­ag­ing that of some­one who re­quires reg­u­lar med­i­cal at­ten­tion and lives in an­other lo­ca­tion. At the very least, this in­volves two peo­ple and two dif­fer­ent sched­ules, but if oth­ers — like part­ners, sib­lings or close friends — also play roles in the care­giv­ing, co­or­di­nat­ing sched­ules is even more es­sen­tial. This en­sures that ev­ery­one at­tends the ap­point­ments they’re sup­posed to, bills are paid on time, and ev­ery­one is picked up from the air­port when nec­es­sary.

Shared Google cal­en­dars are one way to make sure ev­ery­one is on the same page. There are also a num­ber of apps that help you co­or­di­nate with your loved one and other care­givers. Some ap­pli­ca­tion can also help users keep track of med­i­ca­tions, med­i­cal ap­point­ments and in­surance in­for­ma­tion. Part of self- care is know­ing when you’ve taken on too much and should ask for help. This can in­volve ev­ery­thing from lo­gis­ti­cal sup­port, like ask­ing a neigh­bour to check in on your loved one, to so­cial sup­port for your­self. Part of ask­ing for help may also in­volve speak­ing with your em­ployer about need­ing time off from work. If at all pos­si­ble, be hon­est with your boss about why you need to ad­just your sched­ule, and re­al­is­tic about the amount of time you may need to take off. This is a sit­u­a­tion where the abil­ity to work re­motely would be help­ful, but even then, it can be dif­fi­cult to keep up with con­fer­ence calls and emails along­side doc­tors’ ap­point­ments. Make sure you dis­cuss clear ex­pec­ta­tions of any ar­range­ment with your boss to en­sure that you are both on the same page and noth­ing falls through the cracks.

In ad­di­tion to work, dis­tance care­givers also of­ten have fam­i­lies of their own, with obli­ga­tions to both their par­ents and chil­dren. For some­one with re­spon­si­bil­ity for mul­ti­ple fam­ily mem­bers in dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions, lo­gis­tics can be dif­fi­cult, es­pe­cially when emer­gen­cies re­quire sched­ules to be read­justed quickly. When it is ap­proached as a choice, rather than a duty or obli­ga­tion, car­ing for a loved one long dis­tance can in­crease pos­i­tive emo­tions and off­set stress.

Anne Hath­away says, “The thing that I’m most wor­ried about is just be­ing alone with­out any­body to care for or some­one who will care for me”

Hil­lary Clin­ton was a cham­pion of care­giver sup­port be­fore be­com­ing a care­giver her­self to her ail­ing mother

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