Long Distance Caregiving

Tips for Long-Distance Caregivers (LDCs)

shutterstock_162039686At SelectCare Home Care Services of NY, we have spent more than 30 years putting families at ease by ensuring their loved ones remain happy, healthy and independent in New York City.  Peace of mind can be easy to achieve when your father is just a few subway stops away, but it’s easy to grow anxious when you are separated by a lengthy plane ride.

Family members who take a role in their parent’s care from a different city are called Long Distance Caregivers (LDCs) – while the distance makes daily visits unlikely, there are countless ways you can make sure your loved one remains safe.  As a long distance caregiver, you should focus on:

–        Supporting the primary caregiver

–        Assisting your loved one manage their various bills and medical records

–        Organizing additional services through home care agencies or similar groups

Below are some useful tips for long-distance caregivers from our home health care experts:

1.      Gather copies of important documents before you need them

Insurance providers, hospitals and other organizations you encounter in the wake of a medical emergency live and breathe documentation. Having these documents available will help you navigate important phone calls:


–        Contact information for all doctors and pharmacists your loved one uses

–        An up-to-date list of medications they take (check these lists often if your loved one is on a number of medications)

–        Up-to-date medical records


–        Know the location of important original documents, like deeds and birth certificates

–        Have copies of any relevant legal documents, like Power of Attorney, wills or Advance Directives

–        Social Security Numbers


–        A list of all insurance policies, carriers, account and policy numbers


–        Contact numbers for all utility providers, like electricity, heat, water, cable ect.

–        A statement of net worth

–        Important budget information (yearly or monthly income and expenses)

–        A list of all assets and debts (quantified into solid dollar amounts)

2.      Make local contacts

Talk to your loved one about the people closest to them in the city.  Having a network of friends and community members who can look in on your loved one during an emergency can prevent anxiety during storms or other events.

This list should also include at least one person living within walking distance of your loved one.  If everyone agrees, it could be wise to give this person an extra key to the home.  Make sure both you and your loved one have a copy of these contacts.

3.      Make the Most of Your Visits

Visiting your loved one should first and foremost be about spending time together and catching up, but with a little planning, you can use these visits to make sure your loved one is thriving.

–        Before you arrive, talk with your loved one and see if there are any important meetings the two of you should attend – like visiting the bank to look over accounts, a trip to the mechanic, or even the vet for your loved one’s pets.  Arrange all these appointments before you arrive.

–        While visiting, make sure the home is in good order.  If there are any bulk items in short supply, consider going on a shopping trip, or at least developing a list of to-do’s in your absence.

–        Set aside some time to go through old mail and papers to avoid missing important documents.

–        Watch for anything unusual, like large amounts of dirty laundry, broken or burnt out lighting fixtures, and check the refrigerator to make sure it is stocked with non-expired, healthy food.

Asking the big questions:  The most important thing to think about during your visits is how your loved one spends their days when you are not present.  Consider their daily needs, and ask yourself if their routine is fulfilling all these needs. Are they:

–        Keeping their home in good order?

–        Staying socially active and visiting with friends or family?

–        Keeping up with household chores?

–        Making regular shopping trips?

–        Organizing and keeping their appointments with doctors?

–        Taking their medication on time and as prescribed?

–        Paying bills on time and responding to mail in a timely fashion?

–        Eating well?

If you can’t answer these questions with certainty, it might be time to consider home care for your loved one.  It’s critical that you discuss your concerns with your loved one and really listen to what they think of the idea.  If they are opposed to bringing in outside help, it might be wise to speak with your loved one’s medical team and see if they would like to discuss the subject as a neutral third party.  In addition to home care, some families choose to hire a Geriatric Care Manager, who oversees the client’s wellbeing through regular visits, confirms home care tasks are being performed properly, and identifies other community services that could be of use.