Kristy Bryner worries her 80-year-old mom might slip and fall when she picks up the newspaper, or that she'll get in an accident when she drives to the grocery store. What if she has a medical emergency and no one's there to help? What if, like her father, her mother slips into a fog of dementia?
Those questions would be hard enough if Bryner's aging parent lived across town in Portland, Ore., but she is in Kent, Ohio. The stress of caregiving seems magnified by each of the more than 2,000 miles that separate them.
"I feel like I'm being split in half between coasts," said Bryner, 54. "I wish I knew what to do, but I don't."
As lifespans lengthen and the number of seniors rapidly grows, more Americans find themselves in Bryner's precarious position, struggling to care for an ailing loved one from hundreds or thousands of miles away.