There is one thing for certain in the life of a long-distance family caregiver: You are going to travel. And often unexpectedly!
You can ease the disruption by acknowledging that you have this “second life,” the one when you are periodically away. By treating it as a given, you can put systems in place to make a sudden departure less stressful.
Your home responsibilities:
- If you live with others, have a household meeting to talk about what to do whenever you are called away. Write down who will take on your chores. Then, when you do get the call, everyone can shift to the agreed-upon “Plan B.”
- If you live by yourself, arrange with others ahead of time to step in for common chores, such as pet care, picking up the newspaper and mail, watering the yard.
Finances and work:
- Create a personal savings program for transportation expenses. Offset the financial stress of caregiving trips by putting aside a little money every month.
- Set bills to pay automatically online. Remove the need to worry about what has and hasn’t been paid!
- Save up your sick time, vacation time, or personal time off at work. Coworkers might even be willing to “donate” some of their paid time off to help.
- Arrange to continue some projects remotely. Perhaps you can bring a laptop, or phone in to join meetings.
Arrange a time for daily contact with those back home. Touching base by phone or email is beneficial for everyone. It maintains a thread of continuity to your “normal” life and helps everyone know they can count on time to discuss the day’s challenges.Consider a care manager to serve as your local “eyes and ears.” He or she can help you decide if you need to leave urgently or if you can wait until a scheduled visit.