When it comes to caring for our ageing loved ones, many of us struggle with feelings of guilt – a feeling that is greatly increased by distance.
If you live in a different region, state or country, you may find yourself wondering, am I calling enough? Am I visiting enough? Am I doing enough?
As a long-distance caregiver, it’s important to know that caregiver guilt is extremely common. However, not being able to manage your caregiver guilt is destructive, draining and stressful.
We discuss 6 practical tips about managing guilt that often comes with caregiving from a distance.
1. Focus on love
Approaching your long-distance caregiving role from a place of love rather than duty can help you see the role as a positive experience.
Take steps to redefine your relationship with your ageing loved one and reflect on how you would like to be treated in old age. Do what you can to fulfil those expectations.
2. Be supportive
If another family member lives close-by and handles most of the physical aspects of caregiving, you may be feeling even more guilty. Worse, your family member may be resentful of your distance and inability to physically help.
It’s important to put your guilt to one side and open up a conversation about how you can best support your family member in their role.
3. Encourage independence
As your loved one ages, they may begin to doubt their ability to manage on their own. This can be further amplified if those involved in their care get into the habit of doing things “for” them rather than “with” them. Help your loved one maintain their independence by encouraging them to:
- get active with support and guidance from an allied health professional
- practice proper nutrition
- stay on top of their medications
- keep mentally stimulated with crossword puzzles and brain games
- re-connect with old friends, or make new friends
- join a social group for seniors
- invest in age-friendly home improvements
- pursue a new hobby
- do tasks they are physically able to perform
4. Get in touch
You may not be able to visit your loved one regularly, but you can call, write, email, video chat or find other meaningful ways to show you care. If your loved one is not tech-savvy, you can arrange in-home computer and phone lessons to help them connect with you from afar.
5. Use supports
If you find that your loved one needs more physical support than you can offer, there are ways to provide additional care from a distance and gain peace of mind.
You may wish to engage in-home aged care providers on a private, fee-for-service basis as your loved one needs them. Alternatively, you may want to consider government-funded options like the Home Care Package Program and find a provider that offers dedicated care management. This can help you share the load.
6. Set and maintain healthy boundaries
It can be extremely hard to set boundaries with ageing loved ones and those physically involved in your care, especially while dealing with the guilt of being a long-distance caregiver. In fact, guilt may be the reason you say yes when you really want to say no.
It’s important to remember that saying “no” is not an act of rejecting your loved one, it’s an act of rejecting a request that you feel you cannot fulfill. It’s ok to set boundaries with your time, and it’s ok to not do it all.
If you have a loved one in need of home care services, book a complimentary care consultation with My Care Solution today. My Care Solution provides quality in-home care and support services to help older people across Adelaide and the Fleurieu Peninsula live independently.