8 Tips For Long-Distance Caregivers

Of the 34 million Americans who care for older family members, roughly 15 percent are long-distance caregivers. In fact, if you live an hour or more away from a person who needs your care, you are considered a long-distance caregiver. The large number of long-distance caregivers is not surprising. As children enter adulthood many move away from home for higher education, work, relationships or to live their passion. Caregiving in general can be challenging but long-distance caregiving comes with even more unique challenges. So, how can you better manage caregiving from a distance? Here are 8 tips for long-distance caregiving.


Know and connect with their healthcare providers.

Even though you may not have the option of accompanying your loved one to their medical appointments, you can still build a connection to gain their physician’s unbiased assessment of your loved one’s health and advocate for their care. Start by creating a detailed list of your loved one’s medical providers. Then reach out and ask for a telehealth meeting or call. Your loved one may have an online portal from their healthcare provider where you can gain access to ask questions or follow their care. Your loved one will need to authorize the doctor to release their private health information to you, but it is typically a simple HIPAA release form that will need to be filled out. Or you can consider gaining Medical Power of Attorney. Connecting to their medical providers can give you peace of mind by having a realistic view of their health and allow you to be more involved in advocating for their care.

Build a support system.

It’s important to have people nearby who can act as a support system when needed. Build a contact list of their friends, trustworthy neighbors or members of their church. There’s nothing more worrisome than when a loved one does not answer the phone for several hours. You need someone nearby who can check on mom or dad when needed. Many neighborhoods now have neighborhood Facebook pages. Ask to join, this is a great way to keep up with what’s happening in the neighborhood.

Communicate more often.

If you are caring for a loved one who’s far away, you know how challenging it can be to have a realistic view of how they are faring. Setting up frequent Skype, Zoom or Facetime calls can help you gain a better sense of how your loved one is managing. Visually connecting, even on a screen, can give you cues on how they’re doing physically and with selfcare like getting dressed or bathing.

Engage local resources.

If your loved one is having challenges with activities of daily living like housekeeping, grocery shopping or cooking, you can arrange local support. Most grocery stores offer online shopping with curbside pickup and home delivery options. There’s also companies like Instacart that will shop for and deliver groceries. You can also research trustworthy housecleaners and arrange bi-weekly or monthly cleans. Consider joining Nextdoor for their neighborhood, never share that your loved one lives alone but this can be a great place to reach out to locals to find local resources for lawncare, home repairs, transportation services and housekeeping.

Set up online banking.

Even from a distance you can help your loved one manage their finances. By setting up online banking and drafts for monthly bills you can provide an easy solution.

Make an emergency plan.

When long-distance caring the biggest worry that keeps you up at night is what if something happens. It’s critical to have an emergency plan. Make sure you have copies of important legal and medical documents like insurance policies, advance directives, and their will. Don’t forget to have a list of your loved one’s current medications. Know where the closest hospitals and first responders are. It’s also important to consider gaining healthcare power of attorney and durable power of attorney. Have contact information for neighbors and friends.

Embrace technology.

Consider (with their permission) installing cameras at your loved one’s front and back doors as well as in the main rooms of their home like the kitchen and family room. This can alert you to any potential problems like a fall or if it’s late in the morning and you’re not seeing them move around the house. It will also give you a good view on how they’re faring with mobility, their safety and their ability for selfcare. If cameras seem too intrusive then consider web-based sensors or wearable technology. If mom or dad are struggling with medication compliance then an automatic pill dispenser may be an option. Some pill dispensers come with integrated, wireless fall detectors and panic buttons. Sometimes something as simple as an Alexa or Google Assistant can provide additional support in ordering groceries, finding resources, and information your loved one may need, even making phone calls or turning lights on or off.

Remember you.

Caregiving, as rewarding as it can be, is not easy. Long-distance caregiving can come with even more stress, powerful emotions and anxiety. Long-distance caregivers often feel like they are not doing enough. They harbor guilt for not being there more often and struggle with feeling like there is no way they can provide helpful care across the miles. Remember you are doing all you can and even if you can’t be there as much as you would like you’re still playing an important role in the wellbeing of your loved one. If you are feeling overwhelmed or that endless sense of guilt, consider joining a caregiver support group. Connecting to others who understand what you’re experiencing can help you feel less alone in your struggles. Sharing these experiences can bring you a much needed outlet and help you gain perspective. A mental health professional can help with stress management techniques. If your loved one is under our care, ViaQuest Hospice provides emotional support to family caregivers. Just like you being there for your loved one, know there are others who can be there for you.

What if you discover that your loved one needs more help?

Through better communication and getting a closer view of their world you may discover that your loved one needs more care than you can provide.  A geriatric care manager who can make in person visits and help arrange in-home care may be an option. If your loved one is living with advance illness and needs extra care then ViaQuest Hospice might be the answer. ViaQuest Hospice provides expert medical care and an extra layer of support. Our care includes, our hospice medical director,  nurses who provide expert care and symptom control in the comfort of home, CNAs who help with selfcare, social workers who can help align resources, chaplains for spiritual care and comfort and volunteers who provide emotional support and companionship. 

The role of a long-distance caregiver is challenging, but by organizing, aligning resources, leveraging technology and securing local support you can have a huge positive impact on the wellbeing of your loved one.

The Toll of Congestive Heart Failure

There are more than 200,000 cases of congestive heart failure (CHF) in the United States each year. Heart disease continues to be the greatest health threat to Americans and is still the leading cause of death worldwide. As CHF advances, patients often experience distressing symptoms that lead to frequent hospitalizations. The emotional and physical toll of congestive heart failure can be overwhelming to both those living with CHF and their families. February is National Heart Month, a time of year when ViaQuest Hospice works to educate about hospice’s ability to improve quality of life for those living with advanced CHF.



Congestive heart failure (also called heart failure) is a serious condition in which the heart doesn’t pump blood as efficiently as it should. With CHF the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs. As frightening as it sounds, heart failure does not mean that your heart has stopped or is about to stop working. It just means that your heart is unable to pump blood the way it should.

As a result, the heart can’t keep up with the body’s demand, and blood returns to the heart faster than it can be pumped out, causing it to become congested, or backed up. As blood flow out of the heart slows, blood returning to the heart through the veins backs up, causing congestion in the body’s tissues. Patients often experience swelling (your physician will refer to this as edema) in the legs and ankles, but swelling can occur in other parts of the body, too.

CHF typically occurs after other conditions have already weakened the heart. High blood pressure, diabetes, heart attacks, coronary artery disease, and other heart-related conditions can be risk factors for CHF. Unfortunately, some of these factors cannot be reversed, meaning that some patients are inevitably at a higher risk for CHF.


Symptoms of heart failure can range from mild to severe. There may even be a time when you have little to no symptoms at all. This does not mean that you no longer have CHF. CHF is a progressive disease. When living with CHF it’s important to remain in tune with your body. As symptoms progress, there may come a time when you need an extra layer of support to ensure the best quality of life possible. ViaQuest Hospice is highly skilled in CHF. Our expert care helps control symptoms and improve quality of life. Common symptoms of congestive heart failure include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling tired
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Swelling in the legs, ankles, and/or abdomen
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Dry cough
  • Limited ability to care for oneself

Though hospice can greatly improve the quality of life for those living with CHF, it is often a choice made too late to make a real impact, or a choice not made at all. ViaQuest provides expert, highly skilled care for CHF. Our care can help reduce and control symptoms, increase comfort, and improve quality of life. ViaQuest, along with a patient’s physician, creates individual plans of care focused on each patient’s disease progression and unique needs. This highly focused patient-centered care helps control issues resulting in reduced trips to the ER and hospitalizations.


When we talk about serious illnesses like CHF, most of the symptoms we read about are physical. Just Google CHF and you’ll find pages of articles on signs, symptoms, and causes. But CHF takes a bigger toll on a patient’s life than physical symptoms. CHF can have a huge emotional impact on both the patient and their family, affecting their joy, peace of mind, and sense of wellbeing. Common effects of CHF can include:

  • Depression, anxiety, fear, anger, and hopelessness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Confusion
  • Loss of spiritual wellbeing
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Guilt or feeling like you have become a burden
  • Feeling isolated from healthy family and friends

Here’s how hospice care is different. ViaQuest Hospice helps patients and their families understand and then navigate these emotional tolls of CHF. ViaQuest counselors, chaplains, and social workers provide comfort, resources, and guidance to help you recognize the emotional side of this devastating illness, then help you find a path forward to living better with your new reality.


ViaQuest Hospice can help reduce the burden and stress of advanced CHF. We focus on improving quality of life by developing individual plans of care unique to each individual and their stage of illness. If you have a loved one living with CHF, remember you don’t have to face this serious illness alone. Comfort, support, and an extra layer of caring are available. If you’re unsure about what level of care makes the most sense in regard to your loved one’s illness today, we can offer guidance and answer any questions you may have. Give us a call at 855-289-1722 or reach out to us here and we’ll help determine if our hospice services are right for you.

The Promise of Better Selfcare in 2022

It’s the time of year for resolutions, where we reflect on positive changes we want to focus on in the new year. One of the best New Year’s resolutions family caregivers can make is one focused on their own wellbeing – selfcare. Our blog is dedicated to helping you keep the promise of better selfcare in 2022.

Better Selfcare

Since many caregivers seldom consider their own needs, it’s important to realize that selfcare is not selfish. In fact, it’s vital. Think of it this way, when you pay real attention to your own wellbeing, you are considering the needs of your loved one. Practicing selfcare ensures you can be the best version of yourself for those who need you most. Without it, it’s like taking your car on a road trip while the gas is on “E”. So, let’s say it again – selfcare is far from selfish.

As you make the promise of better selfcare in 2022, key selfcare practices should focus on the mind, body and spirit. Here’s tips on how:

1. Mind

Our mental wellbeing affects every aspect of our lives and impacts our physical health. Practicing mental selfcare can bolster our energy, happiness, physical health and psychological well-being. These simple steps can help improve your mental wellbeing.

  • Practice Gratitude. When caring for a seriously ill loved one, it’s hard to see beyond the burden of the disease. But focusing on what is beautiful, good and hopeful in your life can really help. Gratitude is powerful. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, improves their health, and helps them deal better with adversity.
  • Meditate. Meditation can provide immediate relief, no matter what the stress or anxiety. It can help you regain a sense of calm, peace and balance. And the benefits don’t stop once you stop meditating, they carry you through the day. Try and find time every day to meditate, here’s a great guide by the Mayo Clinic on different types of meditation.
  • Reconnect with Nature. Researchers have long been touting the benefits of nature on mental wellbeing. Studies have shown being outdoors lowered levels of cortisol, a hormone that’s a marker for stress. Spending time in nature has long term mental and physical health benefits. You don’t have to hike the Andes, you can do simple adventures like visiting your local park, taking daily walks or spending time on your patio.

2. Body

Caring for your physical health is crucial for you to be able to care for someone else. Too often caregivers forgo their own health needs to care for their loved one. Maintaining your own physical wellbeing is protecting your ability to care for your loved one. These simple steps can improve your physical health.

  • Don’t Forget Your Preventative Health. It’s important to make sure you get your preventative health screenings. If you missed these last year, this should be your number one resolution in 2022. This is a gift to yourself and your loved one.
  • Get Some Sleep. Sleep plays an important role in your physical health. Sleep affects our immune system, appetite, breathing, blood pressure and cardiovascular health. Make a promise to yourself to take the time to get some good rest.
  • Exercise. Exercising more is the top New Year’s resolution. No wonder, exercise is powerful medicine. Not only does it play a key role in health and disease prevention, it’s a great stress buster. When you exercise regularly you feel more powerful and have more energy to care for others. Make 2022 the year you get moving.

3. Spirit

Caring for your spirit is just as important as caring for your mind and body. It actually has a direct impact on our physical health and mental wellbeing. Caring for our spirit empowers us. These simple steps can help you uplift your spirit.

  • Reconnect with Friends. When life overwhelms we often give up time with friends. But friends are important. Good friends bring connection and happiness into our lives. They enrich our days and make us feel part of something important. Don’t isolate yourself in 2022, give yourself the company of good friends.
  • Build Your Nest. Environment matters. Your space impacts your mood. Creating a peaceful, beautiful space for yourself can lift your mood and happiness. An appealing space is inviting and offers a respite to unwind. Spend some time building your nest, it’s your safe harbor in a storm.
  • Do Something Uplifting. What uplifts you? Many find joy in attending their favorite church, others find joy volunteering or helping a neighbor or friend. Find what uplifts you, it will nourish your soul.

A new year has long been the symbol of new chances and new beginnings. Making your selfcare a priority is not selfish, it’s the best resolution you can make, for you and your loved one. And remember, if you or your loved one needs an extra layer of support, we’re always a call away. Learn how ViaQuest Hospice cares for the mind, body, and spirit.

Keeping a Loved One with a Serious Illness Home for the Holidays

Keeping a loved one with a serious illness home for the holidays

To many, the holidays represent special time with family and friends. The holidays are about being together no matter if it’s celebrating with a few friends or joining a huge family celebration. Celebrating with those around us is what gives the holidays meaning and joy. As the song goes, there’s no place like home for the holidays.

Unfortunately, seriously ill patients are often hospitalized during the holidays for health issues that could have been prevented through better end-of-life care. A hospitalization is stressful and unwanted any day of the year, but during the holidays, it can be even more emotionally challenging.

ViaQuest helps keep your loved ones with serious illness home for the holidays. Our expert care coupled with protocols that identify patients at high risk for hospital readmission can help keep your loved one out of the hospital.

How We Can Help Keep Your Loved One Home for the Holidays

Disease Specific Care. Our team specializes in advanced illness and provides the disease specific care that controls the symptoms that often lead to rehospitalization.

Out of Hospital Care. Often patients with a serious illness bounce back to the hospital within 30 days of being discharged. ViaQuest offers a seamless transition into the ViaQuest Hospice Program which focuses on symptom management, pain relief and improved quality of life. This extra layer of support helps avoid crisis situations and provides the optimal care that reduces rehospitalizations.

Individual Plans of Care. Each patient is unique and so is their plan of care. ViaQuest creates individual plans of care tailored to each patient and their specific serious illness. Patients receive ongoing evaluation and plans of care change as the disease progresses and symptoms change. Our patient-focused care helps ensure early identification and assessment of any changes in health status.

Medication Education. Of all medication-related hospitalizations that occur in the USA, 33%–69% are the result of medication noncompliance. Medications can be confusing and difficult to manage. ViaQuest educates and empowers patients and their family caregivers to understand their medications and their benefits. We help reduce complexity and put measures in place to alleviate misunderstanding, confusion or forgetfulness.

24 Hour Support. Distressing symptoms can often result in calls to 911 or a trip to the ER. With ViaQuest you have round-the-clock access to nurses, who are one phone call away.

We understand how much it means to have family and friends together during the holidays. We’re here to provide the care and support that will help your seriously ill loved one stay home safely this season. We all deserve the chance to build special memories this time of year. Accepting an extra layer of care this year may be the first step to yours.

Traveling Home for the Holidays

Traveling Home for the Holidays

The Reality of Traveling Home for the Holidays

This holiday season, ViaQuest is also encouraging adult children to use this opportunity to check on aging loved ones they may not have seen in a while to determine how they are really faring on their own.

As adult children return home for the holidays they may be surprised by the reality of their loved ones’ well-being. Often, adult children will return home for the holidays and realize their elderly parents are not doing as well as they have been led to believe. For children who live far away and are unable to visit often, this realization can be alarming. Your parents may have reassured you that all is going well, when in reality they are having issues. If so, it is unlikely their goal was to mislead you, but only to keep from burdening you. Another reason for misleading reassurances is that older parents often find it difficult to admit that they may be declining.

If you have not been home for a while, take advantage of going home for the holidays to perform a reality check on how your parents are really doing. It may be distressing to realize that your parents are more fragile, less mobile, and weaker than they have led you to believe.

Indications Your Loved Ones May Need an Extra Layer of Support

Here are some things to look for that can be good indicators that your loved ones may need extra support.

Check medications

Make sure elderly loved ones have been taking and refilling any prescriptions. Check to make sure prescriptions are in date and that refills are available. Take time to make sure your loved ones understand the instructions for their medications and are taking them as directed.

Ask about doctor appointments

A recent study published in JAMA showed that more than 40% of people surveyed skipped doctor appointments during the early months of the pandemic. Check in with your loved ones about doctor appointments. Did they miss appointments last year? Are they still missing them now? When is the last time they were seen by their physicians? Are they getting their routine wellness checks, as well as care needed for any chronic illness? It may be a good time to schedule follow-up appointments during your visit or even a short Telehealth appointment to check in with their physicians. This can help you ensure that your loved ones have been getting the care they need, and also give you an opportunity to connect with their providers.

Scrutinize your loved ones’ appearance

Are they well groomed and generally clean? Are their clothes clean and weather appropriate? Is hair washed, neat, and combed? Any evidence of personal neglect could be a warning sign of dementia or issues with their ability to care for themselves. Also, keep an eye out for any unexplained and noticeable bruising, as this could indicate balance and mobility problems.

Examine the overall state of the house and the yard

Any signs of neglect, including spoiled food, piled-up mail, rust or obvious mold, or even just a general impression of uncleanliness could mean that your parents have become unable to complete basic household tasks.

Pay attention to how your loved one is acting

Are there any signs of cognitive impairment? Some indicators of this could be consistent memory lapses, rapid mood swings, the inability to continue a conversation, or apparent depression. Any of these behavioral changes could be an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.

Look for a change in habits

Do your parents seem less engaged or less playful with the grandkids? Are they sleeping more, or spending more time in a favorite chair? Did any favorite holiday traditions change? Do they seem less themselves? How are their appetites? Are they eating less? Are you noticing a marked weakness, or a loss of stamina or strength? Do they seem unstable or need support when they walk? Any of these can be signs of declining health.

Sometimes, a holiday reality check can be an alarming wake-up call, as you realize that your parents are not doing as well as they have claimed and may need some additional help. Ultimately though, it can be beneficial to realize this, so that you can get your elderly loved ones the proper care that they need.

This holiday season, we encourage you to perform a holiday reality check on your aging loved ones to ensure they are living safely and comfortably — and, if not, to determine a comprehensive and beneficial plan of action.

If you do decide that your loved ones need an extra layer of care, ViaQuest can bring an extra layer of care and support. Our care is focused on sustaining and maintaining your loved ones’ quality of life in their home — keeping them safe and comfortable. ViaQuest Hospice can help determine if such care is appropriate for your loved one. Call us today to learn more: 855.298.1722.

5 Ways to Get Extra Care for a Loved One with COPD

5 ways to get extra care for a loved one with COPD

If you are a caregiver for a loved one with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), you likely understand the toll this disease can take on one’s physical and mental health. COPD is a frightening, challenging, and stressful illness. As the disease progresses, the most frightening symptoms of COPD increase, leading to frequent hospitalizations. There may come a time when it is necessary to get extra care for a loved one with COPD. In this blog, we share 5 ways to get extra support for a loved one with COPD.

As winter approaches, the change in season and drops in temperature can cause COPD symptoms to worsen, and you may notice your loved one struggling even more than usual. You may realize that you need an extra layer of support as the stress of the illness increases and symptoms increase. As COPD worsens, your loved one may have repeated lung infections that lead to hospitalizations, have trouble walking and breathing, become dependent on oxygen, and rely on the help of family caregivers.

The first step in gaining an extra layer of support is understanding when it may be time to seek additional care.

When to Consider Hospice Care

If you are unsure when to seek an extra layer of support, consider some of these signs that it may be time.

  • Increased emergency room visits or hospitalizations for COPD complications
  • Shortness of breath to the point your loved feels like they can’t breathe
  • Increased fatigue, depression, anxiety, and stress
  • Need for continuous oxygen or increased use of bronchodilators
  • Any disease progression
  • Choosing to focus on comfort rather than cure of the disease
  • Patient or family feeling the need to call your doctor’s office with questions about medication and symptoms

5 Ways to Get Extra Care

If you believe your loved one’s disease is becoming more difficult to manage or that their quality of life is being more compromised, it may be time to accept additional support. Here are some tips to help move forward in getting the care your loved one needs and support for you as their caregiver.

Talk to your doctor. Share your concerns with your loved one’s physician. Give them a realistic view of how your loved one is doing, sharing any increasing symptoms, stresses, and burdens of the disease. Be honest with them about your own ability to cope as their caregiver and your ability to continue to meet your loved one’s growing needs. Be frank about your concerns. It is OK to ask your loved one’s physician to refer you to a care provider like ViaQuest for support. You are the one closest to your loved one and have the best knowledge of how they are really doing.

Prepare for tomorrow. There is currently no cure for this chronic and progressive disease. By understanding COPD, its progression, and what to expect, you can prepare for a time when it becomes necessary for extra support and a change in your loved one’s ability to care for themselves. Knowing what’s ahead allows you to also accept that you will have limitations as their caregiver and the need for expert care. Prepare a list of potential organizations that can provide the care needed when the time comes. Do your research now vs. when you are exhausted and in a panic state. Reach out to care providers like ViaQuest to understand what is involved in gaining their support. This way, you will have aligned the resources to be there when you need them.

Expect Support. Expecting support is OK. Let’s say that another way – expecting support is the best thing for you and your loved one. Admit it, caregiving is hard. Though many are more than willing to do anything for their loved one, caregiving is physically and emotionally exhausting. Let others help. When friends offer to help, let them. Taking even one thing off your To Do List can ease your stress. If you struggle answering friends when they ask, “How can I help?” look at the things you have to do daily, weekly, or monthly. Can they pick up some groceries, run an errand, drive the kids to their soccer game, pick up prescriptions, take the dog to the vet, or simply be there to when you need to vent? If you write a list of all your responsibilities, then you know how to answer their request to help. And realize, they really do want to help. It’s OK to let them, no one can do it all. You will be a more effective caregiver to your loved one by sharing the care.

Move Past the Guilt. You may feel guilty seeking caregiving support and that by doing so, you will be letting your loved one down or make them feel you don’t want the responsibility. But many of our patients have told us many times that they wished their family caregiver could just be their daughter, son, wife, or husband again. Caregiving can change your role with your loved one. When a disease like COPD progresses and caregiving becomes your main focus, it overshadows your relationship, who you used to be to them, who they used to be to you. If you can’t move past the guilt, you’ll never seek the help you both need. Realize that by returning to your role as daughter, son, wife, or husband, you are giving both of you a gift of recapturing the precious time that remains together.

Consider Hospice Care. You may not realize that hospice care can be a beneficial support system that greatly improves quality of life while reducing the stress and burden of serious illnesses like COPD. It’s never easy to come to terms with the advancing illness of a loved one, yet hospice is most effective when started early on. Considering hospice sooner ensures your loved one, and you as their caregiver, will gain the full benefit of the expert care and the extra layer of support hospice brings. Hospice care providers like ViaQuest are experts in serious illnesses, including COPD. ViaQuest brings a level of care that can control distressing symptoms, increase comfort, and help keep your loved one out of the hospital. Imagine a complete support system of physicians, nurses, counselors, and chaplains providing focused care to your loved one and support to your family while CNAs help with caregiving support like bathing, grooming, changing beds, and light meals. The other great benefit of hospice care is access to an RN 24/7. You have expert support for those frightening symptoms that seem to happen at 3 am. ViaQuest also provides all medical equipment and supplies related to the illness. You may think this incredible amount of support is expensive, but care is paid for by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurers.

If you have a loved one living with COPD, remember you don’t have to face this serious illness alone. Comfort, support, and an extra layer of caring are available. If you’re unsure about what level of care makes the most sense in regard to your loved one’s illness today, we can help. Give us a call at 855-289-1722 or reach out to us here, and we’ll help determine if our hospice services are right for you.