If you have an aging parent who lives far away you may feel guilty that you can't take care of them on a daily basis. It is hard when you can't just pop in and check on how they are doing or deliver their favorite meal. However, you shouldn't feel guilty that you don't live closer. Consider the following tips to help cope with remote caregiver guilt.
Set Up a Communication Schedule
It will be important for you and your parent to be in frequent communication so you can know how they are doing and what needs they may have. Setting up a communication schedule will help ensure that regular communication happens and is a priority for everyone. You will both know the schedule so you will both be aware of the time at which you need to be available to talk.
The communication could be on the phone or via a face to face internet communication such as Facetime. The frequency depends on what works for your situation. Some people prefer to check-in quickly daily and others select a longer time period to talk once a week.
Meet the Local Caregiver
It is likely that someone living in the same town as your parent is providing daily care. This person could be a relative that you know. Or it might be a neighbor, friend of your parent, or home care aide that you aren't familiar with. If it is someone you haven't met make it a point to meet them. You will want a face to associate with the name when your parent talks about their caregiver.
In addition, getting to see the person who is helping your mom or dad every day may be very reassuring for you. You will see they are in good hands and that may immediately reduce your guilt level. It might also be a good idea to get the caregiver's contact information so you can communicate directly with them if you have any questions or concerns.
You are not alone. Many Americans are finding themselves in the same situation. Support and resources are available to help people caring for an elderly loved one from far away. There are a number of resources online in addition to forums and Facebook groups.
Look for Ways to Care From a Distance
From hiring an in-home caregiver to searching for a maid service to come in and clean or a meal delivery service to provide food for your loved one, there are plenty of services that you can pay for others to provide. It might not be the same as being there in person, but it will allow you to make sure that your loved one is receiving all the services they need.
Additionally, you can look for ways to help your loved one's caregiver. Check out our blog post for some ideas: Long-Distance Support for Your Loved One's Caregiver.
Acknowledge and accept the guilty feelings you are experiencing but realize that you can still provide your aging parent support even from a distance. You do not need to live in the same town but can coordinate and oversee care from a distance. Get more advice in our Caregiver Toolkit!