Living with Dementia
Long distance caregiving
Tips for long distance caregivers
Many people are faced with the challenges of providing assistance and care from a distance. If the person living with dementia lives in another city or region, here are some tips for providing positive care:
- Stay in frequent contact. This can be done through weekly phone calls, email or by sending mail to your family member. Include photos and other items that your family member may enjoy seeing wherever possible.
- Establish a routine with your family member.
- Make occasional visits if possible. This will provide you with the opportunity to reconnect and give you some time to do activities together. In addition, you can evaluate how he or she is managing and determine if the needs have changed.
- Research and identify the types of services and availability in that area - and, with the consent of your family member, arrange some services to assist them.
- Ask others for help. Neighbours, friends and community organizations for seniors can be great resources and offer companionship to your family member.
- If other family members are nearby, discuss providing support to each other and potentially sharing the caregiving activities.
- When visiting your family member make appointments with their doctor and lawyer in order to assist in any decision-making.
- Keep a current file with your family member's personal information and anything else you consider important in your role as a long distance caregiver (E.g., list of medications, health card number, insurance information, copies of legal documents, activities of daily living, personal care, record of the person's normal daily schedule).
- If legal documents have not been created yet, you may want to consider putting these in place. These would include an Enduring Power of Attorney, a will and a Personal Directive. For more information, visit the Office of the Public Guardian website.
- Learn as much as you can about your family member's life story and about their dementia.
- If the person with dementia is at risk of getting disoriented, confused or wandering the Safely Home® program is available through the Alzheimer Society of Canada.
- Take a workshop on dementia care strategies to increase your learning about care strategies and make the most of your moments together.
Considering a move?
If a family member with dementia is moving to Calgary, they can apply for Alberta Health Care coverage once they are in Alberta. You can access and print the application form on the Government of Alberta Health and Wellness website. There is a three month waiting period after the application has been filed.
Once the person receives their Alberta Health Care card they can access community support services such as Alberta Health Services Home Care, who will do an initial assessment to determine what kinds of services are appropriate, review community resources and supportive housing options, adult day programs and support for family caregivers. For more detailed information you can reach Home Care at (403) 943-1920 or visit them online.
Some factors to consider before moving or relocating a family member with dementia are:
- The person with dementia's needs for independence and familiarity with friends
- Your past relationship with the person with dementia
- Your needs and your family's needs
- Lifestyle differences
- The home environment - space, privacy, safety
- The availability of proper health care
- The availability of publicly funded community resources to help the care recipient
- Your emotional, physical and financial capability to deal with the person's care needs
- Cost of private care if available or accessible from the publicly funded system
- The impact on your employment situation
- The length of time you expect the arrangement to last
- The effect of an out-of-province or out-of-country move on eligibility for health care and other services
- The opportunity for respite relief for you and your family (can neighbours and friends provide relief for you?)
Relocation for a caregiver may also be a possibility if:
- Community services are not available or accessible for the care recipient
- The physician recommends it
- The person needs 24-hour care or supervision
- The person can no longer live safely at home