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For Many Americans, Caregiving a Long-Distance Burden
Date:8/31/2011

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Caring for a parent or relative in the same zip code can be hard enough, but long-distance caregiving, which is becoming more common in an increasingly mobile society, brings with it added burdens.

By 2012, an estimated 14 million Americans will be long-distance caregivers, so many that some even have new names: "seagulls" and "pigeons."

These terms refer to family members who alight for short periods of time, make a mess for local caregivers and fly out. What they don't take into account are the pain, isolation and hassles that long-distance caregivers are dealing with on their own.

"They have unique issues," said Polly Mazanec, lead author of a paper appearing in a recent issue of Oncology Nursing Forum.

Those include financial concerns, since many people are borrowing from savings to travel at a moment's notice or to arrange child care or pet sitting during their absence, as well as emotional issues such as guilt, worry and anxiety.

"We found that long-distance caregivers were much more anxious than local caregivers, who could see what was happening [on a more frequent basis]," said Mazanec, an assistant professor of nursing at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

"Long-distance caregivers end up feeling guilty. I deal with it on a daily basis," added Dr. Nasiya Ahmed, an assistant professor of geriatric and palliative medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

Family caregiving has received a lot of attention recently, but not so much for those who have to do it at a distance.

"Here's this whole group of people out there that no one is helping and they're typically part of the sandwich generation, juggling their own families and careers," said Mazanec, who is also an advance practice oncology nurse at University Hos
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