It is not uncommon for people to be helping loved ones that do not live in the same town, or even same state. People who live an hour or more away from the care recipient are called “long-distance caregivers.” Over 5 million Americans are providing long-distance care, most often helping a parent, step-parent or parent-in-law. Long-distance caregivers live an average of over 400 miles away from their care recipients, or over 7 hours away. About half of long-distance caregivers are not the primary caregiver, but are instead helping out another relative or friend that provides the majority of care. The other half is either the sole caregiver, the primary caregiver, or shares responsibilities equally with another caregiver.
On average, long-distance caregivers spend nearly hundreds of dollars each month while providing care. These costs include not only services and products for the actual care, but also travel costs and long-distance telephone service. Some caregivers who live more than 3 hours away from their care recipient spend even more month. In a year, this adds up; long-distance caregivers spend an average of $9,654 per year to cover care-related costs Like other caregivers, many long-distance caregivers also have to make changes to their employment in order to fulfill the necessary duties involved in care-giving. This often takes the form of missing days of work, sometimes unpaid, or rearranging work schedules.
Long-distance caregivers commonly provide help with tasks such as transportation, shopping, management of finances, or cooking/household chores. Like other caregivers, they spend over 20 hours a week traveling to the care recipient’s home to provide this help, on average. They are also likely to be managing any services that the care recipient may be receiving, making the appropriate phone calls, monitoring the services, or arranging new services.