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How can I help my family member if I don't live nearby?

If you are helping an older or disabled family member who lives far away, you know that one of the most difficult and time-consuming tasks is coordinating care for that person. Whether you live an hour away, in another state or on separate coasts, finding resources, arranging services and coordinating your own visits and travel plans can be overwhelming. There are many options to be considered, and you’ll want to make informed, well thought-out decisions about your family member’s care.

The first step is to determine what types of services your family member needs. Educate yourself on the resources and services available in the community where your family member lives. Most information gathering can be done by calling the local Area Agency on Aging or by searching the Internet. Although every community is unique, there are similar kinds of services found throughout the U.S., such as adult day services, in-home care, and nursing homes.

If there are no close family members or friends who can help, a care manager can arrange and monitor hands-on services to help your relative. Care managers or social workers may be available through your relative’s local department on aging. Another option is to hire privately a care manager or other professional, such as a nurse, to help coordinate services and respond quickly to challenging situations.

Remember to obtain emotional support for yourself. It may be helpful to talk to friends or to find an in-person or online support group where you can talk about your caregiving challenges. Discussing your situation, letting your feelings out and listening to other points of view can provide some relief and help you to refuel.

For more information, read FCA’s fact sheet, Caregiving at Home: A Guide to Community Resources, as well as FCA’s Handbook for Long-Distance Caregivers. To learn more about the organizations and services near your family member, contact:

Eldercare Locator

Connects older Americans (60+) and their caregivers with the local Area Agency on Aging’s Family Caregiver Support Program, which provides information about local aging services, support groups and other services for caregivers.

Aging Life Care Association (formerly National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers)

Geriatric care managers have expertise in overseeing the care of seniors and can do a thorough assessment of your family’s situation. They are typically paid out of pocket and their fees vary. This organization lists geriatric care managers near you: