Alzheimer's Care From a Distance

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • As I talk to others about the issues my mom faces, I find that many of my friends have loved ones who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. However, my friends face a slightly different challenge than I do; they have to figure out how to be caregivers from a distance. This situation seems to be more and more prevalent since we live in a very mobile society. Professional and personal opportunities can entice us to move across the country (and the world), but also can take us far away from the place where our loved ones have settled.

    My tennis buddy, Chris, is one such person. Chris left Iowa and eventually moved to Texas where she settled, raised a family, and had a career as a very accomplished high school teacher. Chris now works for an education-related company that provides great professional opportunities – and also requires Chris to travel quite a bit. Chris’s mom, who lives back in Iowa, was diagnosed with dementia in the late 1990s. Obviously, Chris isn’t her mom’s primary caregiver; her brother is.
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    Over a recent lunch as we talked about other mothers, I asked Chris how she carves out time in her busy professional and personal life to provide support to her mom. “I call my mother weekly and I write her letters,” Chris said. “I also send presents and try to go to Iowa to visit regularly.”

    After a few more bites of Caesar salad, Chris added, “Perhaps the most important support I provide is to my brother. I try to talk to him on a regular basis because he is the one who has to handle all these issues. Everyone talks about how stressful it is for the person who is afflicted, but I see the added stress that my brother has to deal with in being the caregiver.”

    Chris’s experiences provided some wonderful lessons. You can find ways to be a support for your loved one who has dementia even when you don’t live near the person. And – just as importantly – your support is especially needed by the family member or friend who deals with the loved one’s health and other related issues on a daily basis.

    How do you support a loved one or caregiver who lives far away from you? Tell us in the message boards.
Published On: May 12, 2006