Long Distance Family Caregiver Lesson #1: Stay In Contact Between Visits

February 27, 2015 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Aging Loved One,All Blog Posts,Caregiving,Family Caregiver,Library of Blogs, Articles & Videos

The first lesson I’m sharing with long distance family caregivers is to stay in contact between visits. Staying in touch with your aging loved one between visits is so important for many reasons.

This may seem obvious. Yet I ask you, “Do you stay in contact with your aging loved one between visits?”

You see, it’s not so easy. As a long distance family caregiver it’s kind of, what do they say, “out of site out of mind.” You are distracted with the many demands on your time.

To stay in touch between visits takes discipline. You have to make staying in contact between visits a priority. If you do, I think you’ll find some real benefits for you and your aging loved one.

Why is it important, what are the benefits, to staying in contact with your aging loved one between visits?

  • Reassures your aging loved one that they are important, that you remember them, that they are a priority
  • Continues to build the relationship and keep the lines of communication open between you
  • Regular and predictable contact between visits with your aging loved one has additional advantages
    • You are more likely to detect changes that may require intervention even at a distance
    • Your loved one may not feel the need to pick up the phone and call you whenever because they know when to expect your call
    • Gives your aging loved one something to look forward to, a very valuable lesson in and of itself

I remember my days as a long distance family caregiver. I would call my mom every Saturday at 1 p.m. after she was back in her room from lunch. She always knew I would call. I remember one call when I detected less energy in her voice. She was tired. Her words were slurred. This wasn’t like my mom. So, when we finished our call I picked up the phone and called the nurses station. This began a multi-week investigation on the cause. It turned out this was a side effect from a dosage change of one of my mom’s medications. Once the medication dosage was corrected mom was back to her old self.

I was glad I had regular calls with my mom. It gave us time for wonderful conversations and allowed me to head off long term problems.

And while I had my Saturday call, it’s important to keep in mind the more the merrier. Utilize other family members. I was lucky. My work-at-home spouse used his afternoon break to call my mom at the same time each day. My siblings and I, based on our respective schedules, knew the days we would likely be calling mom. This gave mom plenty of attention and did not overwhelm any one of us with too much calling.

Do you stay in contact between visits with your aging loved one? Is your contact regular and consistent?

We would love to hear from you. Let us know how you stay in touch with your aging loved one between visits. And, how you are able to be regular and consistent in your contact.