Sometimes, the loved ones who need care live far away from us. While it may seem difficult to provide support for them—and the loved ones who care for them—across the miles, there are a number of ways you can help from afar. Here’s how you can be a helping hand to your loved ones and the people who care for them, no matter where you live.
A good place to start is to ask questions about what the loved one and caregiver need. For example, it may seem that they could use some help with having the lawn mowed but the caregiver may actually like mowing the lawn and need some free time to do so. Asking about the type of help the loved one and caregiver need can spark ideas.
Help them get the help they need
Caregivers have many resources at their disposal. A good place to start is AARP’s family caregiving website, including how to provide care at home and finding local resources and solutions and more. With their permission, look into online service locators through which they may access assistance and services or help them by compiling a list you can discuss.
Schedule calls and visits
Instead of calling when the mood strikes, decide together on a regular time to call Sometimes, even spending an hour on a call or Zoom with your loved one can be joyful for them—and give the caregiver a break. If you’re planning a visit, try to coordinate with the caregiver so they can take some time for themselves while you visit.
Handle administrative duties
While local family and friends may provide day-to-day help, there are some tasks that can be handled from anywhere. You can help schedule doctor visits, assist with correspondence and monitoring bills, or researching respite or assisted living facilities.
If you have a close relationship with the caregiver and suspect that your loved one or the caregiver may qualify for public assistance, you may consider helping them by contacting insurance companies, doctor’s offices, or local government offices. You can even help them access benefits programs, including SNAP.
Lend an ear
Sometimes, your loved one and their caregiver may just need a compassionate ear to listen. Not being well or having limits on abilities can be difficult. And so is being a caregiver to someone else, which can also be lonely. Listen without judgement and support them. Sometimes, people just need to be heard, which can help them feel more connected and less lonely.
Remind them about self-care
This one is for the caregivers: remind them that they need to take care of themselves so they can be there for others. Caregiver burnout is common because of their often-selfless nature. Encourage caregivers to find times to rest, keep up with their hobbies, and see their friends. Help them seek out the help they need to give them time to themselves. And reassure them that it’s not only okay to do so—it’s necessary for their well-being.
Create the Good® published an informative do-it-yourself guide with information about helping caregivers, which may give you other ideas, as well.