Genki Caregiver: Heather Harada Shares Some Helpful Tips for Long Distance Caregivers

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When my grandma in Hawaii got sick, my dad flew from California once a month to help manage her care. When my great-aunts in the Fresno area got sick, we would drive three to four hours one way to see them. While these are more typical examples of long-distance caregiving, “long-distance” doesn’t mean you have to be a minimum number of miles or hours away from your loved one. If you don’t live close to your loved one, whatever “close” may mean, you are a long-distance caregiver.


Here are some tips for long-distance caregivers:

  • Plan ahead. Make sure you have a current list of your loved one’s health care providers, any medical conditions or prescriptions, banks/financial planners, lawyers, and local emergency contacts as well as copies of advanced health care directives (if any) and other legal documents. Also, decide what you want to accomplish on your next visit to your relative – for example, can you go with him/her to a doctor’s appointment while you’re there? Or perhaps visit some assisted living facilities in the area?
  • Research the local aging services organization in your loved one’s area. Whether it’s a senior center, the local Alzheimer’s Association, or an assisted living home, keep an updated list of local resources that you can call upon if needed.
  • Get to know your loved one’s friends, health care providers, and neighbors. This comes in handy particularly if you are the primary caregiver or if there are no other close relatives in the area. Maintaining regular contact with those who see your family member on a frequent basis can help you stay up to date on his/her condition. They can also provide “on the ground” support, such as taking them grocery shopping or helping with chores.
  • Communicate. Regularly talking to your loved one as well as the key people in his/her life not only keeps you informed but can also give you peace of mind that your family member is doing fine. Talking on the phone, email, texting, social media, and video-conferencing are all great ways to keep in touch.
  • Take care of yourself. So many caregivers neglect to take care of themselves. And while I’ve heard some long-distance caregivers say, “I’m not there all the time … I don’t do all the little things like cooking, shopping, visiting every day, so I don’t have the same burden” – in some ways, the worrying can be worse, since you can’t be there right away if something happens. All caregivers need to take care of their well-being first, so that they can support their loved ones as best as they can.


Additional resources:


Do you have any additional tips for long-distance caregivers? Please share with me in the comments below!




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About the Author:

Heather HaradaIMG_6168 is the Program Coordinator, Research with Keiro. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Political Economy from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Master of Science degree in Gerontology from the University of Southern California. In her spare time, Heather enjoys cooking, hiking, and travelling.


The material presented on this site is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily represent the opinions of Keiro, or its contributors. Readers should consult appropriate health, legal, or financial professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.  Full disclaimer

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