Having a loved one miles away who is battling cancer can quickly propel you into a long-distance caregiving role. You may find yourself struggling to develop a connection and feel like a part of your loved one’s challenges, all while feeling too far away to make a positive impact on his or her day. The comforting news for you is you’re not alone in your long-distance caregiving situation. In fact, according to a study published by the Long Distance Caregiver Project, there are an estimated 3.3 million long-distance caregivers, though that number could be much greater depending on the age or situation. To better equip you for better equip you for your new role, and to offer you some encouragement, take a look at a few common challenges from long-distance caregiving roles, along with how to overcome them.
Missing Doctor Appointments
Living cities, or even states, away from your loved one can cause you to miss out on doctor appointments. You may feel like you’re getting information secondhand or that your questions are never answered. To make you feel more connected, ask your loved one to bring you to appointments via video call or speakerphone. While you can’t physically be in the room, you can still feel a part of the process and be able to ask questions or take notes.
Missing out on Helping Out
If you’re hours away, it’s impossible to bring over a meal when you know your loved one is having a hard day. You can’t stop by to toss in a load of laundry or pick up a child from school. You can, however, be the coordinator of friends and family who are close by and want to help. Care coordination and assigning tasks is easy with care calendars or sites like Lotsa Helping Hands. Simply find out what your loved one needs help with and put the call out to those who are able to help. Then, schedule your care calendar accordingly to assure your loved one is getting the help he or she needs.
Missing the Good Days
Cancer treatment is full of bad days, but it can also be full of good ones when side effects are tolerable and energy levels are nearly normal. Living far away can keep you from being there for those magical good days and taking advantage of what they have to offer. To get involved on the happy moments, consider mailing your loved one gift cards to favorite spots (such as pedicures, restaurants, shops or movie theaters) he or she can use when he or she is feeling extra good. Then, be sure that person calls to tell you all about it so that you can be a part of the good.
Long-distance caregiving comes with its own set of challenges, and caregivers who live far away are still susceptible to burnout. Take care of yourself while you are taking care of your loved one.
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