While visiting during the holidays, there are plenty of ways for me to help my mother, who is a cancer patient. What can I do to help when I go back home out of state?

Even though you live away, you can still provide support for your loved one. The first thing you can do is set up a regular mode of communication like phone calls, emails, online chatting or video chat. Touching base with your loved one regularly is very important so that you can stay current on new developments and decisions.

Helping your mother build a support network can be especially helpful.

You can contact friends or other family members that are available to help. You can coordinate times, dates and activities either by keeping track of it yourself or through several websites like Lotsa Helping Hands, lotsahelpinghands.com/ and Caring Bridge, caringbridge.org/ .

Provide your mother with the contact information of her support team and make sure that she uses your contact information when filling out medical forms so that the health care team knows to notify you if there is an emergency. Talk to the hospital social workers to see if there are discounted places to stay or volunteer air transportation services available for family members.

Above all, tell your loved one how much you care and that you will do whatever you can to help.

For more information, contact Courtney Britton, librarian at Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge, at (225) 927-2273, cbritton@cancerservices.org, or visit the Education Center at 550 Lobdell Ave., Baton Rouge.

ä Internet Resources:

So Far Away: Questions about Long Distance Caregiving – National Institute on Aging

This column is presented as a service by Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge, a United Way affiliate.