If you are caring for someone with cancer who lives more than an hour away, that’s “caring from afar” or helping from a distance. It can be emotionally and practically difficult. But you can help.
Here are 10 things you can do from a distance:
- Help the person with cancer figure out how much care he or she will need. Determine whether he or she can stay at home. Your use the assessment on this site or this online Independent Living Assessment to help figure this out, and/or talk to the patient and his or her healthcare provider. If needed, look into in-home healthcare, in-home support services, and/or elder care.
- Call members of the patient’s support group like neighbors, friends, or the patient’s faith community. Tell them what's going on. Make sure they know how to reach you.
- Look into treatment options so that you can help the patient make decisions. If you have the patient’s permission, talk with his or her healthcare provider directly to be sure you understand the situation.
- Check-in regularly with the patient to see how he or she is doing. Ask about side effects that might be troubling him or her, and talk about ways to deal with them.
- Go over appointment schedules and transportation plans and help the patient troubleshoot if need be.
- Go over any questions the patient should ask his or her healthcare provider. Review the answers together.
- Look into agencies that can help with transportation, prescription costs, and patient support, and let the patient and/or local caregivers know about them. Or, call yourself and get information.
- Have an emergency plan in place. Make sure that everyone who needs this information has it.
- Maintain a list of the patient’s medications. Check-in to be sure he or she is taking medications as directed by the healthcare provider. Make sure this information is available to local caregivers.
- Take the lead in making sure the person with cancer has his or her legal and financial paperwork in order.