How to Care for Aging Parents When You Can’t Be There: 6 Tips You Need to Know
6 Tips on How to Care for Aging Parents via Long Distance
Caring for elderly parents is already challenging. But factor in living across town or out of state, and the situation can become exponentially more difficult. Thankfully, there are ways to ease your guilt of being away from them while ensuring they receive the care they need as they age.
Here are six tips on how to care for aging parents via long distance.
Meet with Your Family
The first step you should take is to regroup with your family, either in person or virtually. This includes not only your parent, but also their spouse, your spouse, your siblings, and any other close family members. You should not feel like you have to tackle everything, so this is the time to discuss everyone’s strengths and work on dividing up care.
Some tasks you can delegate during the meeting include paying bills, managing finances, finding transportation as needed, looking up local home repair options, searching the internet for senior activities in their area, and more. You should also discuss the process of making major decisions and who has written permission from your parent to receive important medical and financial information. Ensure that everyone is on the same page about who will handle what and when.
Encourage Independence & Boundaries
As we age and experience more health and mobility issues, we tend to shy away from seeing friends and participating in the activities we enjoy. Encourage your parent to call friends and meet up with them. Ask if they’re working on any hobbies or attending church or local events. If you find they’re turning inward and staying at home more often, figure out why. It could be a mental block or a more serious health issue they haven’t yet shared with you.
Another important factor in caring for aging parents is setting boundaries. You may find that they lean on you for every single need or contact you at inopportune times. This could be payback from your teenage years, or they may feel less confident in making decisions. Be patient with them as you figure it out, but don’t be afraid to set some boundaries. Hopefully they will have other people to lean on, like we’re about to discuss in the next section.
Seek Support & Build a Community
Again, don’t feel like you have to tackle every need, especially since you’re not living close to your parent. In addition to family members who can help out, find out who your parent’s friends are. They may be able to drop off groceries, bring coffee for a morning visit, or take them to a local event. You can also ask if they know their neighbors. They might be able to help with things like shoveling a snowy driveway and keeping an eye on the safety of their house.
It’s also important to have a list of important, reputable contacts on hand for things like home maintenance and housekeeping, landscaping, medical needs, home health aides, etc. Whether your parent needs regular assistance or you’re concerned about a potential need arising, it’s good to know of people in the area that have been recommended by their friends or neighbors.
Schedule Visits & Stay Connected
No matter how far away you live, you should try to visit your parent in person as often as possible—even if it’s once a year. Not only will you get quality face-to-face time with them, but you can also assess their living situation in person.
When you can’t visit in person, schedule regular video calls or phone calls. With technology today, you can even invite other family members to join at the same time. You can chat, play games, watch a movie together, and more.
Explore Other Living Options
As your parent’s needs change, you may find that their level of care has exceeded what you are able to provide or coordinate. If that’s the case, it’s time to look into other living options, such as independent or assisted living. Senior living communities will offer compassionate, personalized care for your parent while providing them with the independence and social life they want.
Need more help?
At Generations Senior Living in Berea and Strongsville, Ohio, we can help you further assess the needs of your parent. When they become a resident of our communities, they’ll have everything taken care of, from housekeeping to meals and social activities to health care. You won’t need to worry as much, knowing that all of their needs are being taken care of.