Everyday Wellness: Caregiving from afar

May 17, 2012

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There are an estimated 7 million long-distance caregivers in the United States. Although many miles can add difficulty to caring for an aging parent or loved one, you can still make a big difference.
* Emotional support: Schedule regular phone calls and use email to share news, fun and information. Give the person something to look forward to.
* Detective work: Your loved one may sound fine on the phone, but how do you know? Ask questions like, "What's for dinner?" rather than "Are you eating well?" If your loved one's answer is "a box of crackers," he or she may need more day-to-day care or an extended visit. Simple, conversational questions can give you better insight into the person's well-being.
* Project management: If you feel comfortable as a medical advocate, you could handle your loved one's care, interpret doctors' orders, or manage a professional caregiver. If you're knowledgeable with numbers, take on finance and insurance issues. Hold a family meeting and divide responsibilities and finances. Using your skills on a specific set of long-distance tasks can help both the one needing care and other caregivers.
Source: National Institute on Aging
How Purdue can help
* WorkLife Programs
WorkLife Programs offers elder care presentations, the Family Caregiver Fair and links to other on-campus services. Visit www.purdue.edu/hr/WorkLife/elderCare.html or call 49-45461.

* WorkLife Programs Resource Center
WorkLife Programs has a library of materials available for Purdue faculty and staff. You may borrow books, CDs, DVDs, equipment and videos for up to three weeks. Log in with your career account and password at www.purdue.edu/worklife, and then click Resource Center on the left-hand side.