Explore Resources banner graphic

Staying Involved (Long-Distance)

Long-distance, or remote, caregiving has quickly become a reality. Long-distance caregivers are usually family members who provide support, care or care coordination for an elder who lives at least an hour away.

Although the distance may change, the responsibility and dedication remains the same. These caregivers still provide help such as handling money, making appointments, offering reminders, checking in regularly, coordinating care and meals and traveling, often to visit and provide respite care for local caregivers.

People who find themselves becoming long-distance caregivers need to be ready to:

Long-distance caregiving can be a heavy burden. Creating a support network within the community and among involved medical providers can ease the strain, and enable older individuals to live independently in their communities. One way to understand the need to pull in resources is with an image of the three-legged stool emphasizing the critical relationship between older adults, their community, caregivers and health care providers.

Caregivers play a very significant role in the nation’s long-term care systems -- helping millions of older Americans live in their communities of choice.

If community-based eldercare services are needed, contact the local Area Agency on Aging. You can find a local agency by phoning 800-677-1116, or by visiting the online National Eldercare Locator.

A growing number of long distance caregivers find it helpful to work with a geriatric care manager. These eldercare professionals can be of great value in assessing caregiving needs and coordinating needed services. Care managers can be consulted to help solve a one-time problem, such as arranging for an alternate living situation and coordinating the move. They can also develop an ongoing relationship with your family in which the care manager stays involved as local advocate and care coordinator.

Making a Plan

Once you have a feel for the issues, it’s time to begin determining what your role can and should be in caring for a family member. Here are some points to keep in mind as you do this planning.

Remember, caregiving responsibilities call for teamwork whenever possible. If other family members live closer and are doing more than you are able to do, find ways to acknowledge the greater role they are playing. Ask their help in finding concrete ways that you, too, can be helpful. Say “thank you” and find other ways to express your appreciation often.

Resources Available to Help

As you prepare to get involved in caregiving from a distance, it’s reassuring to know that an entire network of eldercare support services is out there to help. Here are three key resources you can tap.

If the person is already in an institutional care setting, coordinate with the professionals on the facility’s team. Ask whether it’s appropriate, given your relationship to the person and his or her wishes concerning confidentiality, for you to receive and give input to the person’s plan of care. Try to schedule your next visit to coincide with a care conference at which the person’s needs and care plan will be discussed.

If community-based eldercare services are needed, contact the local Area Agency on Aging. You can find a phone number in the Yellow Pages, or by phoning the National Eldercare Locator number, 1-800-677-1116.

A growing number of long distance caregivers find it helpful to work with a geriatric care manager. These eldercare professionals can be of great value in assessing caregiving needs and coordinating needed services. Care managers can be consulted to help solve a one-time problem, such as arranging for an alternate living situation and coordinating the move. They can also develop an ongoing relationship with your family in which the care manager stays involved as local advocate and care coordinator.

Online Resources

Contact Easterseals for more information about Easterseals services in your area. 

Text FAMILY CARES to 80077 to join Easterseals mobile community and get more caregiving resources and information.

SMS Subscription service. Up to 4msg/mo. Msg&Data Rates May Apply. Text STOP to 80077 to STOP. Full terms: mGive.com/E Privacy Policy: mGive.org/P

Some content reprinted with permission from the book, Aging in Stride Plan Ahead, Stay Connected, Keep Moving.  © 2004, Caresource.

Powered by Blackbaud
nonprofit software