From Jim Coyle: Long-Distance “Caregiving”

Jim CoyleI’ve mentioned before that I live a few-hours’ drive from Vicki, so I don’t have the opportunity – or the privilege – of being with her and providing concrete support and care on a daily, or even frequent, basis. A while back, Vicki suggested that I write about my experience as a “long distance caregiver”. I started writing a post but got tied up in the history of Vicki’s FTD and our early work together to find out more about the disease and try to find other people with FTD to communicate with. I think that’s a story for another day, though.

I have great admiration and respect for the men and women who are true caregivers for their loved ones or others. Their lives are affected just as much as the person with the disease, and they need our support and prayers too.

It’s tough for me to live far away from Vicki, unable to drop in often and help. My family and work responsibilities are here in Eastern Ohio, so being a full-time caregiver for Vicki isn’t feasible for me now. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wonder how Vicki is doing, that I don’t pray for her, and that I hope people “drop by” to help her when she needs help. No one is providing regular full- or part-time care for Vicki, and as is typical for her, she doesn’t want people to inconvenience themselves on her account. She does have wonderful neighbors who watch out for her and quietly take care of some tasks around the house.

What support I’m able to provide is far short of what a true Caregiver does, so I don’t consider myself one.

But I try doing for Vicki whatever I can. A lot of our communication is electronic – text messages, Facebook posts. As her FTD has progressed, Vicki has stopped using e-mail for most communication because the volume of e-mail was overwhelming to her. I watch for her on Facebook to see whether she’s posting updates, photos, or playing the few games that haven’t become overwhelming. She knows I do this, appreciates it, and we don’t consider it stalking 🙂

This year I haven’t been able to visit Vicki as often as I used to – often not because of my schedule, but because of Vicki’s health. And for a couple of months, she had a stressful living situation at her home which affected her physically and emotionally. With much prayer the situation was resolved and I was able to visit Vicki again for a few days. But her energy was much less than it had been.

I’m here with Vicki on my mind and in my prayers. I wish I were doing more, and am looking forward to visiting again. Because we both need me to visit.

Papa, keep taking good care of Vicki.



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  1. thank you, Doc. Not sure how I’d push thru the days with all the guardian angels that don’t complain about my FB activity, but know I am up and about. And there are days I just can’t go online, as you know. I want to thank my kids, Beth, Andrea and Nick for the gift of my little dog, Beanni, who really has been a part of my maintenance. Great message.

    • Jim Coyle on August 19, 2012 at 3:44 am
    • Reply

    Your children’s gift of your dog Beanni was a Godsend, arriving at just the right time. You’ve got a great family in so many ways.

  2. praying for you vicki

    • freda on August 27, 2012 at 8:10 am
    • Reply

    And I believe it is the great Mom who makes a great family and the great friend who makes a wider family of friends………

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