www.phs.org/Medicare 3 Are you a long-distance caregiver? You may be if you live an hour or more from someone — such as a family member — who needs your help. If you are participating in the care of someone far away, then you know that being a long-distance caregiver isn’t easy. Below are some tips that may make a difficult job more manageable: Be informed. Learn as much as you can about your loved one’s medical condition, medicines, and available resources. Keep all information in one place and up-to-date. Make copies for other caregivers and family members. This will help you stay on top of what’s going on with your loved one’s health and possibly prevent a crisis. Plan visits ahead of time. If you are able to go see your loved one, check with other caregivers to see what needs to be done. For example, does your mother need new clothes? Would it be helpful if you could meet with your father’s doctor? Try to spend time with your loved one doing things that are unrelated to being a caregiver, like watching a movie or playing a game. Make it easy to stay connected. Consider buying your loved one a simple cellphone if they don’t already have one. Program important numbers into it. Encourage them to stay in touch. Organize paperwork. You may need access to your loved one’s personal, health, financial, and legal records. Gather all this information together. Once you have a handle on this, other caregiving tasks — like talking to your loved one’s doctor or lawyer — may be easier to manage. Consider getting caregiving training. We’re not born knowing how to be a caregiver. Training can teach you how to safely transfer a person from a bed to a chair, how to prevent and treat bed sores, and basic first aid — skills you might need when you visit your loved one. Check with your local chapter of the American Red Cross to see if they offer this type of training or know who does. Hire a local care manager, if you can. They are often licensed nurses or social workers trained in care management. Their services can be expensive. But just a consult with a care manager may be all you need. How to make the best of long-distance caregiving You can find eldercare professionals in your area by visiting the Aging Life Care Association at www.aginglifecare.org.