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Monday, February 6, 2012

Caring for a Loved One via Long Distance

This week marks a year ago that I was in Texas caring for my mother, who was hospitalized after suffering a stroke.  That was a long week while she was hospitalized for both her and the family.  What is amazing is that she is 85 years old, has fully recovered from the stroke, continues to live alone and is in relatively good health.  Fortunately, she listened to her family--although I come by my stubbornness honestly.  She finally allowed Home Care into her home to assess her surroundings for safety (i.e. falls, kitchen safety, bathroom safety, etc.) as well as to get her on the road to recovery.  The Home Care nurses were great and played a big part in her current favorable health status.  I recently learned that over 7 million Americans are cared for by family members via long distance.  Based on my experience, I would suggest getting there when you can to make sure that the living environment is safe.  Know what medications your loved one is taking.  Know the drug name, the dosage and the frequency.  Have key information such as the preceding drug info and your contact information available either in or on the refrigerator.  Make yourself known to the doctor and his or her team that are caring for your family member.  It is a new era and caregivers have become much more responsive to your requests for information.  Caring for a loved one long distance is tough but having that support system in place, along with the availability of information, can give you some peace of mind.

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