Welcome to Caregiver Friday!!
Growing up I remember the stories my parents told of where they grew up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. They shared stories of the neighborhood, where they lived, and who they lived near. It was common for families to live within blocks of each other making support an easy thing to accomplish. Knowing that there were family and friends within blocks eased everyone’s mind because love and support was close. Times have changed and we’ve become a very mobile society, so what does that mean for us?
The job market has enticed many people away from their place of birth with the hope of a promising career. I moved away from the east coast three years after I graduated from college to go to graduate school. No matter the reason we leave, we often leave our families behind. So what happens when a loved one needs our support?
One of the greatest tools for long-distance caregivers is technology. Although you may not be there to provide the hands-on caregiving, you are available for emotional and spiritual support. Technological advances like Skype, or FaceTime on your smart phone give you the chance to see you’re loved one while speaking to them. Texting and email have certainly allowed long-distance caregivers to stay in touch with their loved one as well as the medical team who is caring for the person you love. What about the day-to-day caregiving responsibilities?
When I was a HIV/AIDS service provider, I know that many who were diagnosed with AIDS, especially early on, returned to their hometowns to receive care from family members. There was a huge migration of people from the two coasts who moved back to their more suburban/rural towns to receive love, support, and care from their families.
Depending on the amount of care needed a in-home caregiver can be hired to care for the physical needs of the person. This was the choice may family made for my grandmother. It was important for us that my grandmother remain in the home she’d lived in for over 35 years. Having the continuity and safety of the home she had lived in for so long was crucial for her quality of life. My parents lived an hour away, but my father often worked in the area and would stop by several times a week to visit and then my grandmother would come to my parents’ home for visits. We were fortunate to have a live-in caregiver who was attentive, loving, and compassionate…but that may not be an option for everyone.
It’s possible to hire a care manager who will make an assessment of the person’s needs and the comes up with a care plan. Often this entails arranging for community services to come in and provide help to the person who is health challenged or injured. There is the option of a multi-level care facility. These living communities go from independent living, to assisted living, to 24 hour nursing care. It is often quite expensive so it’s not an option for everyone.
We’re going to have to come up with ways to handle the issue of long-distance caregiving, especially as our population ages. The statistics show that because we’re living longer, many will have illnesses in their advanced years. If you’re a long-distance caregiver and have strategies to share I’d be grateful. It’s something we have to address unless of course we all begin to migrate back to our families.