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Staying in touch from a distance
Staying in touch from a distance requires regular communication and involving others to help. Here are some suggestions:
Establish a routine
Regular contacts are important in communicating with a distant relative. An established routine can be reassuring for everyone. Call on the telephone or write letters/emails to exchange news and find out how things are going. Modern technology makes it possible to help distant family members feel close. Keep in mind, however, that equipment may only be useful for those in the early stages of the disease.
Meet the doctor
Arrange to meet your *parent’s doctor to get to know him or her. Establish a way to keep in contact. Good communication is essential, and it will be much easier and more efficient if you meet the physician personally at least once.
Maintain contact with other caregivers
Stay in touch with any caregivers who are on the scene. This may include a neighbour, a friend, or a relative who lives with, or near, your parent. It could also be a social worker or a staff person from a local Alzheimer Society or community agency that is providing services. Be sure to let these people know that you appreciate their help.
Keep in mind the different viewpoints of close and distant relatives. On the one hand, you may be the first to notice a problem. Confusion or memory loss may have developed so gradually that others may not have noticed the change. On the other hand, because you are not there every day, you may not realize how difficult the situation is for the regular caregiver.
Support each other
If your other parent or your brothers or sisters are providing care, talk with them and offer your support. Try to understand each other’s feelings and points of view and talk over what can be done. Find ways to support each other and to share responsibilities.
*Since the relative needing help is often a parent, we will refer to the distant relative as “parent” and the caregiver as the “adult child.” The information also holds true for others within the family who have different relationships.