Thursday, August 21, 2008

How To Cope With Long Distance Care Giving

Here's a situation that I bet affects many of my readers and that causes some of you much frustration and angst.

In the beginning of Mom's decline, it was not immediately clear to me that she was losing cognitive function. More and more, after Dad died, she naturally looked to me for help with her decision-making and with her growing problems with daily living.

I had to decide things like: when to intervene forcefully about driving, housing, medical care, etc., and how to make this determination long distance. For me, living half a continent away, this is what it meant: when to hop on a plane, leave my own business and family concerns, and go to her—-and when not to go. It wasn't always easy to determine when my presence was absolutely necessary. As with most of us, there were limited opportunities for me to actually pick up at a moment's notice and go.

So you know what happened, don't you? Often, when I finally arrived to deal with her crisis, the problem remarkably got resolved while I was in transit and my physical presence turned out not to be really necessary. On the other hand, shortly after I returned home, she'd invariably face an issue that really did require me to be there…only, this time, I would not be able to get away again.

I wanted to save my trips for the absolutely essential ones, but how could I know in advance? How indeed? There was nobody but me, her only child and next of kin. Who could advise me? I needed partners to assist me.

In a future post I'll share the good news and the bad that resulted from my search for a local assistant.

Bob Tell
Author, "Dementia-Diary, A Caregiver's Journal"

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