Long-distance caregivers are often secondary caregivers and play a more supporting role to the primary who either live near or with the care recipient. Since long-distance caregivers are not physically present, they are often unable to attend medical appointments or directly receive information regarding their loved one’s diagnosis. However, here are some important ways to make a positive impact over long distances.
Regular communication is a powerful way to offer emotional support.
Providing emotional support through regular communication, such as telephone calls and video chats, is important. This is especially important as cancer treatments can be prolonged, and the initial outpouring of assistance from your loved one’s wider social network can shrink over time.
Coordinate support from the patient’s social network.
During times of more urgent need, long-distance caregivers can coordinate with their loved one’s broader social network to arrange specific needs. This social network includes anyone in your loved one’s community who may want to offer support, including friends and neighbors.
Help with finding long-term or temporary in-home help.
It’s necessary for local caregivers to get a break from caregiving once in a while to maintain their own overall well-being. Long distance caregivers can help by finding and/or hiring home care services to help the local caregiver with their responsibilities and step in when a break is needed. This is often referred to as “respite care” and may even be covered by insurance or membership programs such as AARP.
Caregiving during a pandemic.
Caregivers may not be allowed to accompany their loved ones to appointments, and there are complicated rules around visiting patients. This can feel even more challenging when supporting a loved one who has a weakened immune system, as people with cancer so often are. Caregivers who live with the care recipient may hesitate to venture out for the same reason. Be aware that in that sense, COVID-19 has made many more people into long-distance caregivers and virtual appointments may play an increasing role in how support is provided.
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