Are You Providing Long Distance Care To A Loved One?

Do you live more than an hour from an aging parent, loved one or friend who is struggling to manage on his or her own? Are you experiencing anxiety as you anticipate the dreaded emergency call requiring a long road trip, costly plane ticket or extended leave from your own life? Perhaps you are already watching, with mounting stress, as the financial strain of long distance care multiplies when you add in the cost of travel and time away from work? Perhaps you are angered by a family member who fails to take on any of the responsibility that you are now taxed with. Do you resent having to carry the load?

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Are you feeling limited, helpless or confused as to what you can accomplish as a long distance caregiver? Are you becoming mentally exhausted as you attempt to navigate the complex maze of identifying and accessing care services? Do you feel overwhelmed as you attempt to prioritize and tackle tasks including, managing finances, executing legal documents, addressing changing care needs and the daily activities your care recipient can no longer perform?

Is your loved one in denial about the aging process?  In an effort to seem “well” and maintain independence, does your care recipient block your attempts to obtain a clear assessment or even sabotage your efforts by canceling appointments and terminating services?  Do these behaviors leave you feeling ineffective, powerless and hopeless?

Does watching your loved one’s mental and physical health decline create feelings of sadness and grief? Are you feeling increasingly guilty about being far away, and when you are there, do you feel ashamed for not living closer. Are you consumed with worry as you consider uprooting your life to be closer or moving your loved one in with you and how this will impact your personal and professional life? Is it time to consider a senior living setting offering independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care? Are you paralyzed by this decision, at a loss on how to present it to your loved one and filled with fear of the accompanying guilt?  

With all you are attempting to take on, you likely feel completely depleted of your emotional, physical and financial resources. More and more, your needs are the first to be neglected. As your stress intensifies, so does the need for caregiver support for yourself.

You Are Not Alone

If you are struggling, as a long distance care partner, you are certainly not alone.

According to the National Council on Aging, approximately 5-7 million caregivers in the U.S. (about 15 percent of all caregivers) are long distance caregivers.

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According to AARP Public Policy, long distance caregivers have the highest annual expenses compared to co-resident caregivers.

On average, long distance caregivers reside 450 miles from their care recipients, which is approximately 7 hours travel time, according to Family Caregiver Alliance.

There are also a variety of professional organizations that strongly advocate for caregiver support. Many organizations that serve patients and caregivers strongly encourage therapy.

The Alzheimer's Association advocates that, “Living out of town does not mean you aren't involved or that you don't care. Get support.”

Family Caregiver Alliance says, “Take care of yourself. This rule is the most important—yet family caregivers so often forget it.”

The truth is you must be healthy and make self-care a priority to be the best care partner possible. With the guidance of an experienced counselor, you can regain balance in your life and experience increased satisfaction and meaning throughout your caregiver journey.

Experience Clarity And Relief With Long Distance Caregiver Support Counseling

Counseling is extremely effective in providing caregiver support, guidance and education, as well as aiding in processing feelings, managing stress and improving self-care. Care partners also find counseling to be a great asset in identifying, prioritizing and addressing concrete issues and making tough decisions. A caregiver’s work is undeniably difficult. There is no promise the journey will be easy, but with the help of an experienced professional, you will not only survive this endeavor, you may even discover the rewards hidden within it.

In my practice, I emphasize the term “care partner” rather than “caregiver,” as I recognize the importance of giving and receiving by all parties in any healthy relationship. I will partner with you, and we will enlist family, friends, medical personnel and service providers to partner with us as members of a care team. Having the ability to delegate tasks will greatly improve your experience as a long distance caregiver.

As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, I will assist you in verbalizing your feelings, innermost concerns and hopes for the future. As we work together, we will establish clear and attainable goals based on the here and now, targeting what is most important and helpful to you. Throughout this process, we will build upon your individual strengths and discover ways to reduce caregiver stress. We may explore everything from your past family challenges and communication patterns, to navigating tough conversations with your care recipient and family.  Together, we can design an individualized treatment plan that allows you to be effective in this care journey without losing your inner balance, peace or sense of self.

Much of this work focuses on designing a blueprint to tackle your responsibilities while minimizing the impact of physical, emotional and mental stress as we build a foundation of caregiver support. A hallmark of caregiver burnout is persistently neglecting your own health. Together, we can examine your daily routine, creating more space for healthy living and re-engaging in activities you enjoy. This is vital to preventing isolation, preserving happiness and maintaining your sense of self. We may also practice mindfulness techniques to reduce caregiver stress by inserting small rejuvenating peaceful breaks into your hectic days. As a holistic practitioner, I understand that physical, psychological, social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing are crucial aspects of being the most impactful caregiver possible. Counseling can help support and strengthen your functioning in each of these areas, while empowering you to maximize your health and performance for all those who count on you.

I’m a seasoned professional with a genuine passion for helping others improve their quality of life while achieving their goals. I hold a certification in Behavioral Health in Aging, which has provided me with a rich appreciation and understanding of the most relevant issues of aging. I am truly dedicated and passionate about helping care partners, providing caregiver support and easing the care journey.

You may still have questions or concerns about long distance caregiver counseling…

I’m not even there. How can I justify getting help for long distance caregiving?

Living at a distance from your loved one does not protect you from the emotional impact of caregiving. If you are looking at this page, you may already, or soon need to be, a key participant in your loved one’s care journey. You are susceptible to the emotional toll, just as a live-in caregiver, along with challenges unique to you as a long distance care partner. It is recommended that everyone involved in caring for a loved one reach out for caregiver support, this is not a sign of failure but rather a sign of wisdom. 

I don’t have the time or money to receive caregiver support or learn about caregiver resources.

As a care partner, your day starts early in the morning and ends late at night, with little recharge in between. However, if you do not prioritize your own needs, you will become mentally, emotionally and physically depleted - a recipe for burnout.  With just one hour a week to refuel, you will notice increased energy, a calmer – clearer mind and more resilient physical health. Your perspective will shift to one that is increasingly hopeful.

The cost of foregoing support is higher than you think. When chronic stress remains unaddressed it can weaken your immune system, creating a much higher likelihood of physical illness and burnout. Your performance in long distance caregiving, career and relationships all may suffer. Be proactive, ask for the caregiver support you deserve.

I don’t want to talk about my feelings with a stranger.

While it is undeniably important to process feelings, our work together is guided by your needs and goals. Not all counseling is solely dedicated to dealing with emotions. In fact, much of the work we will do together may focus on identifying, prioritizing, organizing and accomplishing the tasks you are faced with as a long distance care partner. 

Help Is Available

If you’re ready to become partners in care with someone who wants to ease your caregiver journey, please call 303-618-7595 or contact me here for a free 30-minute consultation.

I have known Jim for over a decade and have found him to be an amazingly present and caring human being. As more of us find ourselves caring for older parents and need support, Jim will be an incredible resource to our community.
— Marco Lam, L.Ac. Director Mandala Integrative Medicine Clinic
 


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