If miles separate you from an aging parent, it can be tough to be present for your loved one’s ongoing — and often changing — needs.
However, the setup is not uncommon. An estimated 2.3 million Americans find themselves in the role of a long-distance caregiver, which is defined by living at least one hour from the individual receiving care, according to a 2013 report by the Alzheimer’s Association.
When facing this type of situation, it’s important to understand your role, says Molly Carpenter, author of “Confidence to Care: A Resource for Family Caregivers Providing Alzheimer’s Disease or Other Dementias Care at Home.”
“Everyone wants to feel helpful and contribute,” she says. You’ll likely need to coordinate with others involved in the caregiving process, including those who live closer to your parent. You’ll want to figure out what you can do from a distance, and what tasks should be left to others.
Here, experts weigh in with essential basics to follow, and missteps to avoid, when lending a hand from afar.