So Far Away cover
So Far Away:
Twenty Questions for Long-Distance Caregivers
» Introduction
1. What is long-distance caregiving?
2. How will I know if help is needed?
3. What can I really do from far away?
4. How can my family decide who does what?
5. Are there things I can do that will help me feel less frustrated?
6. What is a geriatric care manager and how can I find one?
7. How can I keep up with my mom’s medical and health care?
8. How can I make the most of a visit with my parent's doctor?
9. How on earth can my parents afford everything they need?
10. What kinds of documents do we need?
11. Should I encourage my parents to get more help?
12. How can we make the house safer for my mother who has Alzheimer's disease?
13. How can I lighten the load for my mother?
14. How can I help my folks decide if it's time for them to move?
15. What happens if my mother gets too sick to stay at home?
16. How is it that long-distance caregiving makes me feel so guilty all the time?
17. How can I be sure my father's caregiver isn't mistreating him?
18. How can I help my parents think about their future health care preferences?
19. What is the difference between an advance directive and a living will?
20. What if I'm told my mom only has a few months to live?
Resources: Where to Turn for Help
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So Far Away: Twenty Questions for Long-Distance Caregivers

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Five years ago, Dave’s mother moved from the old house in Philly to an apartment in Baltimore that was closer to his sister. Dave didn’t give much thought to how the increased distance would affect their relationship. Until then, they’d only lived 30 minutes from each other. Dave had lunch with his mom about once a week; sometimes they’d go to a ballgame together. After the move, neither Dave nor his mom expected much to change—what was another hour or so of drive time? But over the years, the drive seemed to get longer and time together was harder and harder to arrange. Then his mom’s health began to slide. When Dave’s sister called to say Mom had fallen and broken her hip, Dave needed, and wanted, to help. Should he offer to hire a nurse? Should he take a week off work and help out himself? After all the years his mom had devoted to raising the family, what could Dave do from far away to help her?

The answer for Dave, and for so many families faced with similar situations, is simple: Lots! Long-distance caregivers can be helpful no matter how great the distance. So Far Away: Twenty Questions for Long-Distance Caregivers focuses on some of the issues unique to long-distance caregiving. Developed by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health, this booklet is a gateway to ideas and resources that can help make long-distance caregiving more manageable and satisfying.

Long-distance caregiving can be figuring out what you can do to help Aunt Lilly sort through her medical bills or thinking about how to make the most of a weekend visit with Mom. It can include checking the references of an aide who’s been hired to help your grandfather or trying to take the pressure off your sister who lives in the same town as her aging parents and her aging in-laws. So Far Away often refers to caregiving for aging parents but, in fact, this booklet offers tips you can use no matter who you are caring for, be it an older relative, family friend, or former neighbor.

The booklet is organized in a question/answer format. Each of the 20 commonly asked questions has a brief, stand–alone answer. There’s also a resource list at the end that can help you find more information.

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Page last updated Jan 31, 2008