3 Ways to Keep Distant Family Members Connected and Involved

Feeling all alone in the wilderness is a common source of caregiver stress. More distant family and friends are continuing on their merry way while you thrash through the unfamiliar thickets of dementia care. These ideas can help:

  • Take the initiative. If relatives don't call you, or they avoid asking how it's going, consider taking the initiative to do so yourself. Try not to sound defensive or angry (even if that's how you legitimately feel). Just say, "I want to update you on Mom's condition. Here are some of the things that have been happening lately, and here are the things I find helpful."

  • Share information. Sometimes simply being educated about dementia helps outsiders find a way in. Try forwarding this newsletter or Caring.com articles to them: "I thought you'd be interested in seeing this; it's really true for us." And see if your contacts spark a more involved response. Sometimes the people we think are ignoring us are really just sitting back feeling helpless about what to do.

  • Invite them over. From a distance, your relatives may hesitate to be bothersome as "guests" (yes, even family can feel this way). Instead let them know that they're welcome -- and then plan your end carefully. Don't try to go all-out as a hostess; the idea is to ease your stress, not add to it. Schedule doctor appointments during the visit, so your family member can come along and hear firsthand updates. Schedule a few just-for-me activities, too, so that you can take advantage of the visitor to be with your loved one while you get out and recharge.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio