How can I make the most of visits with my loved one?

Careful planning can help you effectively use your time with your loved one. For example:

  • Find out what your loved one needs. Before visiting your loved one, talk to him or her about what tasks you might be able to assist with during your trip. Does your loved one need to go shopping, or is there something at the house that needs to be fixed?
  • Schedule appointments. Ask your loved one if you can accompany him or her on a doctor's appointment during your visit. This will give you an opportunity to discuss your loved one's health, medications and any other questions you might have. Take notes on the doctor's recommendations. Ask the doctor to suggest any helpful community resources. Consider making appointments with your loved one's lawyer and financial adviser, too.
  • Look for signs of problems. During your visit, check to see how well your loved one is managing daily tasks. Is your loved one able to drive safely, eat regular meals, keep up with personal grooming, and pay his or her bills? Ask your loved one's friends and neighbors if they've noticed any behavioral changes, health problems or safety issues.
  • Set aside quality time. Watch a movie with your loved one or take him or her to visit friends or family. Offer to play a game of cards. Simple activities can help you and your loved one relax and enjoy your time together.

I feel guilty that I'm not there enough for my loved one. What can I do?

Many long-distance caregivers feel guilty about not being able to do enough or spend adequate time with a family member in need of care. If you're feeling guilty, remind yourself that you're doing the best you can. It might be helpful to join a support group for caregivers. You might benefit from the tips of others as well as the knowledge that you're not alone.

Aug. 22, 2013 See more In-depth