Help Your Aging Parent from Far Away: a how-to guide

As parents age, providing them with the care and attention they need when they live far away can be challenging. If your parents (or grandparents) are aging or have a chronic health condition, it’s essential to know how best to help from afar. Many need to be made aware of the available resources and options to ensure their aging parent is comfortable and well-cared for. Here are some tips on providing the best help for your aging parent from far away.

Helping Your Aging Parent When You Live Far Away: A How-To Guide. (An older couple sit on a bench overlooking a forested hill.)

Research Local Support Services

Caring for an aging parent from afar can be difficult and stressful. To alleviate this stress, it’s important to research local support services near your parent or grandparent. Many organizations and businesses can provide services like meal delivery, transportation, home care, etc.

Take the time to do an online search for local support services in your parent’s area and contact them to learn more about how they can help. It’s also a good idea to ask if anyone you know has used any particular service and get their feedback before making a decision.

Nowadays, reliable retirement living centers and senior communities offer excellent care and services. Check if they offer personalized services that meet your parent’s needs and would benefit them. The team at Riddle Village CCRC explains that a modern center will provide assisted living, memory care, long-term nursing services, and more. The team also needs to be well-trained so that the elderly loved one is always cared for properly.

Schedule Regular Video Calls

Staying connected is the key to everything. To keep in touch, schedule regular video calls. This will allow you to have face-to-face conversations with your parents, even if you can’t physically be there. It can also be beneficial to check in with them regularly so that they feel loved and supported despite the distance.

These days, there are several video-calling apps available, like Skype and Facetime. Encourage them to use the best app and set up a regular call day and time. However, if they are uncomfortable with video calls, there are other ways to stay connected. Regular phone calls or sending them letters can also help bridge the physical gap.

To make them more tech-literate, you can also set up a user-friendly computer or tablet for them and teach them how to use it. This can help keep your parents connected with friends and family, which can benefit their mental health.

As we live a province away from most of our extended family, we frequently phone and video chat each other. The kids prefer video-chatting as they can see the person whom they are speaking with. My mom and I are more likely to pick up the phone to catch up with each other every week. Figure out what works best for your family and try to schedule a regular time to connect.

Check-In with Other Family Members

When living miles away, checking in with other people who live near them is essential. This can help alleviate some of the burdens as they may be able to provide more regular care and attention than you can.

It’s a good idea to set up regular check-ins with siblings and other family members. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding caregiving and can help prevent misunderstandings or miscommunication. You can also ask them to update you as they provide care so that you know your parents are being looked after.

In severe or chronic illnesses, it’s essential to be in close contact with your parent’s doctors and other healthcare providers. Keep a list of them handy, so you can communicate any questions or concerns directly and keep up with their progress.

For example, when my grandparents’ health was deteriorating, I knew that their three children were nearby and able to provide care as needed. I checked in frequently with my dad, aunt and uncle about how my grandparents were doing and if there was any way I could support them from here. When my aunt wasn’t doing well following my uncle’s death, her cousin and my brother dropped in to make her meals and help her out.

Consider the Home Care Option

If your aging parent lives alone, consider hiring home care services to help with tasks like housekeeping and running errands. This can be a great way to provide them with the assistance they need without you having to be there.

Look for a reliable home care service nearby and ensure that they are professionally trained and experienced in providing quality care. You can also inquire about any additional services they offer that may benefit your parents, such as companionship and help with medical needs.

This can be a great option when you can’t be there to help them in person. It will also give you the peace of mind of knowing they are being taken care of, even when you’re not around. However, ascertain that your parents are comfortable with having someone in their home.

Have an Emergency Plan

This entails thinking beyond the ordinary, and if you can’t be there for your parents in case of an emergency, having a plan on how to deal with it is essential.

Create a list of significant phone numbers for their doctor, other healthcare providers, and family members who live near them. Designate someone who can make decisions on behalf of your dear parents if they are unable to do so, and make sure that everyone on the list is aware of their role in case of an emergency.

It’s also essential to have a reliable way for your parent to contact you if something does happen. You can give them a prepaid cell phone or set up a system like Skype so that you can be there for them even when you’re not physically present.

Keep Paperwork Organized

Helping Your Aging Parent When You Live Far Away: A How-To Guide. Photo of woman sitting on a red leather couch with a laptop by Samia Liamani on Unsplash

Make sure to keep all your parent’s legal and financial documents organized and up-to-date. This includes their will, power of attorney, insurance policies, bank accounts, etc. Have a folder with all these documents that you or someone else can easily access in an emergency.

This will also help to ensure that their finances are in order and that any bills or taxes they owe don’t go unpaid. It’s best to take care of all these details now so that you won’t have to worry about them in an emergency.

Keeping softcopies of all these documents can also be beneficial; back them up securely on a cloud storage service or other secure online systems. Not all documents may be in digital format, so keep physical copies.

Considering these tips, you can provide your aging parent the care they need even when you live far away. Regular contact and research into local support services can make a big difference in their quality of life. Remember to check in with other family members who live near them and hire home care services if necessary. With the proper support, you can ensure that your aging parent gets the necessary care.

Are you trying to help an aging parent from far away? What tips would you share for staying connected in their lives and meeting their needs despite the distance between you?

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