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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds Like a lot of families, we’re a long way apart from each other. So my mum and dad are in Windsor. And my brother’s in Kent on the other side of London. I’m up here 300 miles away. And so day-to-day contact is difficult. My brother takes a lot more responsibility than I do because he’s closer. So he’s up there probably once a fortnight. But for me, it’s rarely do I get the chance to go down and visit. So telephone calls, but my dad won’t speak on the phone. So my connection, like the phone, would be with my mum. We use Skype a lot. I find that really beneficial because it’s visual. My dad can see me. He can see his grandson.

Skip to 0 minutes and 45 seconds And the two of them are quite funny together because Freddy will be– so where’s granddad? Where’s granddad? And my mum will have to figure out how to move the webcam and shift it around so he can see my dad because he’ll be sitting in his arm chair and so on. But they’ll be laughing with each other. And that connection, so at least once or twice a week, we’ll be doing that.

Skip to 1 minute and 5 seconds And I’ll be in regular contact with my brother because he’s taking more of a lead in it. And just keeping ourselves updated. What we try to do as well is come together as a family whenever we can, particularly events at Christmas and Easter time. Also when decisions need to be taken, so we’ll make sure. Not that long ago that my parents had to make a decision whether to sell their– they had another house. And so we all came together to do that. So I fly down, and my brother had to get across. And– but coming together. But it is that more distant connection.

Skip to 1 minute and 45 seconds So the important thing is I find now is making sure my mum knows she’s not on her own. She’s not isolated. So that regular, very regular contact, wherever we can. And talking with other family members who are around, like my aunt and uncle who live a bit closer and having more connection now on helping with the support services, that they’re getting involved. I’ll say things, well, just send me up those documents and I’ll have a look at it. And my brother in Kent will have a look at it. But that would mean send it by email. And my mum’s of a generation where email, forget it. It’s taken two years to get her to use Skype.

Skip to 2 minutes and 24 seconds Getting her to use stuff like email, which would make all of our lives much easier because she could be sending documentation, web links, and so on has been hard. So what I’ve been starting to do, and I know my brother’s been doing is either contact the social workers who’ve been involved directly or the social care people or I know a little bit about what’s going on up here. So I know people the Alzheimer Society and I’ll ask if there are connections down there. But it’s all about us gathering as much information as we can to try and help my mum navigate this system and trying to offer what support we can.

Skip to 2 minutes and 58 seconds So, recently there was a discussion about care homes for my dad. And because he’s ex-Navy. I said to mum, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll have a look online.” And I also know some people that are involved in services up here. So I asked a few people I knew, got some details, and found out about a care home not too far, about 20 miles from where they are that is for ex-mariners. And it’s a charity. So I set up the appointment. And my brother took my mum over with my dad to visit the place. And so I thought that’s as much as I can do. I can’t get down there for the visit, but I can help organise that.

Leon's story: connecting at a distance

Family members can often live some distance from each other, but will want to support the main carer. Leon talks about the support he provides to his mother, who lives 300 miles away.

In this video Leon describes how he is able to provide some support at a distance by being in regular contact using the telephone and Skype, so that his mother doesn’t feel isolated, making sure he visits when he can, especially for important family events or decisions about care, and taking on some of the practical tasks, such as setting up appointments or gathering information about services.

What experience do you have of caring at a distance?

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Dementia Care: Staying Connected and Living Well

Newcastle University

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