Caregiving From Afar

Find out how to make your contribution count when you’re a long-distance caregiver—and how to take care of yourself, too.

Ellen Byron
More Sharing +

How can you comfort a loved one who has been diagnosed with cancer when you don’t live nearby? “You do the best you can,” says actress Lisa Rinna, who is best known for her roles in Days of Our Lives and Melrose Place.

Lisa was working in New York at the time both her mom and half sister were diagnosed with breast cancer. So she wasn’t able to travel to Oregon, where they both live. “You can’t beat yourself up or feel guilty about it,” she says. “You can call [your relative], send an e-mail, Skype with them. You can even send a note. It’s important to ask how they’re feeling and let them communicate their fears. You just need to listen and let them know that you’re there for them.”

Taking care of yourself
Lisa recommends that it’s also important to take care of yourself when you’re a long-distance caregiver. She suggests the following ways:

  • Experience your emotions. When a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, “it’s a stressful time,” she acknowledges. “Cry about it, and don’t run away from [your feelings]. Experiencing the stress helps release it.”
  • Consider counseling. Therapy helped Lisa manage her fears. “I’ve always been big on going to therapy and talking to someone if I need to,” she says.
  • Put your faith in prayer. “I prayed a tremendous amount,” Lisa says. “I think prayer is a strong form of medicine.”
October 2012