long-distance caregivers need support

Long-Distance Caregivers Seek Professional Help

During the holiday season families and friends visit aging loved ones. Frequently this is the time when they discover troubling changes in health, behavior, or physical appearance of their family member. Many will discover their aging loved one now needs more help or attention.

Recent Survey Reveals Top Reasons Long-Distance Caregivers Seek Help

Long-distance caregivers — those who live a significant distance from a person who needs care — are turning to professional help for managing the care of their aging family members. A recent survey by the Aging Life Care Association™, shows that over 30% of an Aging Life Care Professional’s case load involves families attempting to coordinate care for a loved one from a distance.

The 382 participants revealed the top reasons why long-distance caregivers seek help from Aging Life Care Professionals™, also known as geriatric care managers. The data show Aging Life Care Professionals are contacted most often by long-distance caregivers when:

  • There is a crisis or emergency (76%)
  • Making a visit sees significant changes in health, behavior, or home maintenance (57%)
  • There is a need to explore placement options or relocation (41%)

From mediating complicated family relationships to serving as the local emergency contact, the role an Aging Life Care Professional plays varies client by client. The top five services long-distance caregivers are looking for when they engage an Aging Life Care Professionals are:

  • Consultation about how to best help their parent and/or family (87%)
  • Assessment and care planning (83%)
  • Ongoing oversight/monitoring of care (75%)
  • Routine communication and status updates to out-of-town family (68%)
  • Arranging for home care services (68%)

“Most long-distance caregivers hire us when the situation has escalated or becomes a problem that they can’t solve alone,” says Dianne McGraw, LCSW, CMC and president of the Aging Life Care Association. “Our expertise and our knowledge of local resources allow us to become the team captain and coordinate services. We become the eyes and ears for the long-distance caregiver.”

Survey respondents offered examples of long-distance caregiving cases, many echoing the sentiment that working with Aging Life Care Professionals reduces stress and helps improve or restore family relationships.

  • I currently have a client with memory loss, whose only daughter lives in England. One weekend, while the client was out taking a walk, she took a fall resulting in a fractured skull. She was found by a neighbor and an ambulance was called. I was able to be with her at the hospital, help her stay calm, communicate with her daughter, the hospital, and her physician. As the Aging Life Care Manager™, one is uniquely positioned to coordinate communication in a way that helps everyone involved feel calm and confident, and to help arrange the best outcome for the client.
  • I was hired by daughter in Connecticut for her mother in Washington. Daughter was trying to care manage from a distance, without knowing how, and relationship was becoming strained. Daughter was frequently frustrated, Mom felt daughter was trying to be the boss of her. After completing assessment, care plan, and initial visits, client said, “Thank you for giving back to us our mother/daughter relationship. I feel like I got my daughter back.”
  • The most difficult part of long distance care giving for families is denial. Many families don’t make the trip to see their loved one, they speak on the phone and the client is able to shield the family from what is happening. Having an Aging Life Care Manager to oversee and update everyone with a non-biased opinion helps all parties involved.

To find an Aging Life Care Professional near you, visit aginglifecare.org to access the Find an Aging Life Care Expert search feature.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

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