“I Worry All the Time:” Long Distance Caregiving Concerns

June 26, 2009 at 2:45 am 3 comments

If you’re a long distance caregiver, I don’t have to tell you about the worry and guilt. It just comes with the territory. Caregiving is difficult enough, but it you live 2, 4, 8 hours away, you fret over the million things that could go wrong.

Not long ago, I met Nancy, a daughter and long distance caregiver to her dad who was 93 and as stubborn and unbendable as a hardwood tree. He lived in Tampa. She lived in Seattle. On top of that, her husband had Parkinson’s and they were seniors caring for her elder dad. She told me she had flown down (emergency trips which also cost a lot), three times in a little over six months.

We talked about options: more community involvement (church, area resources, dad moving in with them, an assisted living home, and a geriatric care manager. The problem was, dad was quite coherent and could not be convinced to leave his home even though he fired home health aides every few weeks.

Sometimes there are no easy answers. You can’t bend someone’s will to your way of thinking. The worry and guilt won’t go away and all you can do is to try different options and hope that one clicks in place.

Should you respect your loved one’s wish to live the way they want if their choice greatly impacts your life? How will they do if you move them across the country? Will they adjust? Should you uproot and move closer to them?

If you’re wondering how to manage all this, one great online resources is the National Institute’s on Aging list of twenty questions for long distance caregivers. 

Each family must face that question and decide what’s right for them. Sometimes reasoning works. Sometimes inviting them for a visit can turn into an extended stay. The old honey draws more flies. Sometimes you have to “pull rank” and put your foot down because you are in many ways, responsible for your loved one’s care.

Sometimes they have to go without assistance for a short period of time to realize they can’t make it alone, without your help. Sometimes it’s one big power trip. Sometimes it’s fear. Most of the time it’s a lot of things and we grapple to do what’ right–but what’s right has to balanced with what’s right at for the time and situation and for all involved.  

One thing I do know, worry needs boundaries. If not, it’s like kudzu. It’ll grow in rampant leaps and leave you choking with fear and anxiety.

Do what you can. Help how you can. Keep seeking solutions. Be at peace with the rest.

Entry filed under: brain fitness, caring for parents, elder care, family caregiving. Tags: , , .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. David Gillaspie  |  June 29, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    Hey Carol, a few years have gone by and your message is still clear. Great work. I spoke to you on the phone about my father in law with Parkinsons back then. It was a great comfort knowing someone else had a clue about what to do. Thanks again.


    • 2. Carol O'Dell  |  July 7, 2009 at 6:19 pm

      Hi David,
      So good to hear from you! I hope all is well.
      Thanks for your kind words–caregiver-to-caregiver it means a lot.
      ~Carol O’Dell

  • 3. William  |  July 20, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Nice blog! Keep up the good work.


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This Blog

Hi, I'm Carol O'Dell. This blog will include stories and lessons I've learned while caring for my mom, and now as I speak to caregivers around the country. I hope to offer suggestions, ideas and insights that will help others.

While this blog is supported by Dakim Brain Fitness, I’m not blogging to promote the Dakim company or products. Instead, I’m writing about how caring and being cared for affects your life and your family. My hope is that this blog gives you a place to learn, reflect, gain new perspective to make it another day.

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