December 15 2017
A study by the National Alliance for Caregiving performed in 2009 found that around 15% of caregivers for senior citizens live more than an hour away from their loved ones, and this number is projected to expand as the future continues. What these caregivers struggle with is the question of if they’re calling enough, staying active enough in their loved ones lives, and guilt surrounding the question of if they could be doing more. While it is natural and healthy for caregivers of senior citizens to have these feelings, it is also healthy to find ways to cope with these feelings that are equally healthy and beneficial.
One coping mechanism caregivers can use is to redefine what caring means and how it applies to their individual situation. Senior citizen retirement communities provide the resources and activities that senior citizens need to maintain healthy and active lives while building social bonds and companionship even in the absence of adult children or caregivers. Rather than asking yourself what you could be doing more, focus on what you’re doing now in helping your loved ones and the benefits they are receiving as part of a retirement community.
Reaching out more frequently can also be beneficial to remote caregivers. If you feel like you should call or chat more often, do so, and remain active in your loved one’s lives even from far away. Helping seniors with new technologies like FaceTime or Skype, and getting them comfortable with using these tools, can give you face-to-face interactions that make you feel as though they’re right there in your living room with you even when they may be far away.
Lastly, focusing on love can also be helpful, rather than viewing the caregiving as a duty that needs to be performed. While you may be far away and your loved one in a retirement community, if you focus on the love and bond you still share, rather than the distance between you and the physical duty you feel you cannot perform, it’s much easier to focus on the positive aspects of your relationship and to feel good about your caregiving.