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How to be a caregiver when distance in an issue?

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There are many different types of caregivers with a variety of responsibilities-

Spouses, family members, friends and professionals who care for someone who has cancer in several different ways. Some take on physical responsibilities, others are emotionally supportive and others will do a range of things- from dispensing medications to transportation to and from medical appointments and overseeing nutritional needs.

But there are alot of families where distance is an issue.

How can someone be a caregiver (a source of support) when distance is an issue?

Pls share your experiences. I know your posts will help others just starting on this journey who may be feeling helpless.

Thank you all in advance!!



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How did you guess that I needed to say something.

My wife Pat dianosed with lung and spinal cancer lives at our home in Durban South Africa. Unfortunatly I work in the construction industry and am away from home for most weeks. I always try and go home on a weeed if possible. The trip to Durban is about 260 ks a three hour drive.

At home I have a member of thefamily, my wifes nephew to help. Unfortunatly his help is confined to fetch and carry and also provides transport.

For the more personal issues there are a few very good friends that are able to domre of the nursing type dties.

When I am at home i look after my wife by myself. My medical background, I amm a qualified paramedic and I have worked in a construction hospital, has been a blessing as I am able to take good care of her and also anticipate problems and act accordingly.

To be a caregiver you must have a love for caring for the sick and injured. This I do for my wife with my whole heart and everything I have.

Believe me at times it becomes hard as she is the one I truly love and seeing her sometimes helpless and ill breaks my heart. But being proffessional I sometimes put the emotions behind me and do all the little things that need to be done even through the protests I get from her.

Even when she is in hospital I am there almost all the time just helping with the little things that the nursing staff do not have time to do, like back rubs , putting lotions on and just wiping her face.

Any care giver must be prepared to do a lot of tasks no matter how small they seem at the time.

I know my wife appreciates each little thing I do even if she doesnt say so.

I would appreciate any tips for improving my care of her.

Thank you



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Great topic!

I live about 500 miles away from my mom. My dad lives with my mom and can drive and do chores, but they are both elderly and facing health issues. In the beginning I was sure I'd have to move home and I may yet have to do it. I've coordinated most of my mother's care by phone and internet. I make sure to talk with her several times a week (when she was undergoing chemo I'd talk to her every day on chemo week). I do the internet research for her on her symptoms and side effects and there have been times when she wasn't doing well that I called from here to get a doctor appoint for her. I was fortunate that I was with her when she was diagnosed and I met her doctors. They have all been great about talking to me over the phone to answer questions or to discuss her treatments. Mom is very definiately in charge of her treatments, but she encourages me to discuss her treatments with her doctors as well.

Most of the help though has been in day-today life. I have taken over paying their bills every month. With online banking it has been easy to set up their account so I can make sure the household bills are paid and she doesn't have to worry about it (she is the bill payer in the family). When she was weak from treatments I also found someone to help her with house keeping every week and my brother was able to find someone to help them out with the yard work. I would also try to stock the kitchen with food when I was home and she wasn't feeling well. She wasn't eating so much, but I didn't want my dad to starve. I do go home to visit more often than I would. I try to go every 4-6 weeks if possible.

The other part of caregiving that can be done from a distance is listening. On our frequest phone conversations I learned that my mom sometimes wanted to talk about stuff that was scary. I didn't have to have answers and she didn't want me to pooh-pooh the talk. There were just some things she wanted to say out loud and get them off her chest. Sometimes the best comfort is just having somone who will listen to your fears. From one of these conversations I learned she was worried because she and my father did not have plans for their burial. I was able to research some options for them and they bought cemetery plots about a year ago. Just have that out of the way seemed to be a huge relief for her.

Being far away stinks when she is really sick and I can't see her for myself or help my dad when she is in a bad way. Fortunately we have not had a whole lot of that.


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My Grandma used to get cards from out of town family just about every day. They were often funny and it really cheered her up. Also providing support to those who are caregiving is great. Reminding the in town caregiver to take care of themselves by sending a care package or gift card for dinner or flowers to know they're appreciated can be a real boost.

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WONDERFUL suggestions!! Keep em coming!

My dad also liked to get cards...something very tangible about opening the mailbox and finding something hand-addressed to you....

The little things REALLY do matter.

Some people can't arrange care from a distance, but you can definitely lend support- no matter where you are.

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