Thursday, July 9, 2015

Guest Post: The Challenges of Being a Remote Caregiver

By Parker Hansen

Being a remote caregiver can be an incredibly rewarding role, but it can also trigger a host of overwhelming emotions. Here's how to deal with some of the negative emotions associated with remote caregiving.

When acting as a remote caregiver, one of the first emotions to surface is guilt. Even if you're doing a lot, you might worry constantly that you're not doing enough or that you should be with your loved one in person instead of managing care from afar. Keep this feeling at bay by reminding yourself that you have limits as a caregiver, a parent, a spouse, and a person. Do what you need to do to ensure that your loved one is properly cared for, and check in by phone, video chat, or even mail to maintain a personal connection.

Image via Flickr by Bhernandez
Dealing with drastic life changes all at once can easily lead to stress. This can be magnified if you're taking on the brunt of remote caregiving on your own. If you find yourself relying on stress relievers like overeating, drinking too much, not sleeping, or taking on other unhealthy habits, it's time to take action. Delegate tasks to other family members who can assist from afar, and spread out caregiving tasks, so that others you're close to also have responsibility for your loved one's care.

Even if you're doing an impeccable job of managing care from afar and making sure that every one of your loved one's needs is tended to, you could well be the recipient of criticism. It's no surprise that these unwanted comments can inspire anger. Instead of letting this feeling slowly build into rage, make a point of starting a conversation with your criticizer. Get to the bottom of these comments to determine whether there are misdirected emotions at hand or if there's a real issue to address.

When you're overwhelmed and exhausted, your feelings can quickly turn into resentment. While it's important to pause and let yourself have a bad day from time to time, it's even more critical to understand why you feel this way and help yourself process those feelings. Acknowledge that you've taken a lot on in order to be a remote caregiver, and you've had to make some major life changes. Know that feeling resentful doesn't make you a bad person, and seek out healthy ways to express your feelings, whether through a private journal, a trusted friend, or a support group.

Whether your role as a remote caregiver lasts for years or is only a brief stint, you'll likely encounter grief. This feeling may not result from the loss of your loved one, but rather from the gradual loss of the person he or she once was. Though you should celebrate the robust personality, he or she once had, it's important to form a relationship with the new person that your loved one becomes. Dwelling on your loss may lead you back to unpleasant emotions, but acceptance and moving forward will help you cope.

Serving as a remote caregiver may present a series of tests and trials, but you're up to the challenge. Don't allow negative emotions to fester, and be sure you have a healthy support network to lean on along the way.

Parker Hansen is a Digital Content Specialist with

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