Don’t Go The Distance

Moving your elders is a big decision – for all involved. Where? That one word encompasses so much. Whatever decisions are ultimately made – one thing is clear. It’s better for your elder to be nearer to you or someone who’s responsible for their care than you might otherwise think.

Here’s my recommendation: no farther than a 20 minute drive (or ride) one way. Ideally, it would be closer than that.

Here’s why:

  • When you have time to go for a visit, you probably don’t have more than 2 hours (if that) total.
  • If you drive 20 minutes each way, that leaves 20 minutes visit time for an hour-long visit or 80 minutes if you have 2 hours.
  • You can get in a short visit in 20 minutes. 80 minutes might allow you to run an errand with your elder, or have a check-in with an aide or professional caregiver.
  • Elders don’t want you to just “pop your head in” – and you can’t blame them – you wouldn’t want that either if you were looking forward to seeing someone or if you had some discussion you wanted to cover.
  • If you usually go during your lunch to see your elder, you really can’t afford a longer drive than 20 minutes one way.
  • If you go after work, you’ll be more likely to go (even if you’re tired) if the drive (or ride) is short.
  • If you go on the weekend, you might have a longer time period in which you can stay. However, you still might not want to commit to over 45 minutes in drive (or ride) time.
  • In an emergency situation, if you can get to your elder quickly, you can help or assist them in making a choice in their care.

Here’s a few more:

  • Closer is easier for you.
  • You are the one making a decision about how often to go. If your elder is within 20 minutes of you, you are likely to visit more often (and that is generally good for all involved).
  • More frequent visits can mean that you don’t have to commit so much time at each visit.
  • If your elder is living in a care community or being cared for at home by a home health professional, your close proximity means that there is usually more accountability and more interaction from the caregivers than if they think your elder is rarely checked on.

November is National Family Caregiver Month – meaning those of us focused on eldercare need to be helping YOU, those caring for your elders, with resources and guidance on how to be more effective while reducing the stress and feeling of being overwhelmed that all come with the role of family caregiver.

So, here’s my tip – Don’t Go The Distance. Go for the short trip. Go for 20 minutes or less one way. You will be so glad that you did – usually after the first 2-3 visits.

For those of you who are long-distance family caregivers, share this tip with any family that lives nearby your elder.

Where should you Go The Distance? When finding the best fit between your elder’s needs and the services that are available. But, that’s a topic for another day.

Making your efforts as a caregiver easier saves you time, money and marbles!


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