Former Senior Vice President, AARP
National Family Caregivers Association
It is estimated that more than 50 million Americans are family caregivers to aging parents or ill loved ones. Many people may be caregivers without realizing it. That’s because caregiving can take many forms. Caregiving means taking care of another person with special medical and emotional needs. Caregivers also provide company and support. Whether you provide around-the-clock elder care, or just help your parents balance their checkbook, you’re a caregiver.
People who live across the country from their aging parents often don’t view themselves as caregivers because they are not involved in day-to-day care; but long-distance caregivers assume many important responsibilities. Long-distance caregivers help manage finances and bills; some coordinate and manage in-home care or communicate with a nursing home about day-to-day care; some simply provide moral support for a spouse who is living with the person requiring care.
And you don’t have to live across the country to be a “long-distance” caregiver; anyone who lives an hour or more from the person they are caring for is considered a long-distance caregiver. By that definition, as many as 7 million Americans are long-distance caregivers, according to the National Institute on Aging.
Caregiving can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Family caregivers are more prone to stress and depression, and may be at higher risk for heart disease, diabetes and cancer. And elderly caregivers have a higher mortality rate than non-caregivers of the same age.
Don’t let caregiving or elder care overwhelm you. This Caregiving and Long-Distance Caregiving topic includes information, videos, audio stories and resources to help you manage caregiver stress and the challenges of long-distance caregiving.
Whether your aging parents live upstairs or across the country, caregiving presents numerous challenges. With proper planning and coordination, you can manage the responsibilities and the stress, and provide needed comfort and support to your loved one.