Living more than an hour away from an elderly parent can create challenges when it comes to caregiving. While you naturally want to be there anytime your parent needs you, the logistics can often get in the way. You may also have concerns about your parent’s safety and ability to handle their day-to-day tasks. Fortunately, great strides have been made in senior care that adult children can take advantage of to ensure their parent’s wellbeing even while living long-distance.
Here are 7 steps for helping your elderly parents from a distance:
1. Assess the Situation
One of the first things you will need to do is assess your parent’s current state of health and living situation. If you live long-distance, this may require talking to their physicians, having someone observe their driving and checking to make sure that they are eating well and able to take care of their personal needs. Using this information, you can begin to create a plan regarding the best type of living situation and long-term care services that they may require.
2. Know Your Options
Many people are surprised when they learn about how many options there are for senior care. Often, the best living situation for your parent will depend upon their health and level of independence. Assisted living and skilled nursing care communities are available for those seniors who require more direct care, and some senior adults live well independently with a caregiver dropping in a few times a week. Once you understand your options, you can then proceed with creating a plan for long-term care.
3. Hold a Family Meeting
If you have siblings or other family members that will be involved in your parent’s care, then it is important to hold a meeting to make sure everyone is in agreement. During this meeting, discuss the things that were found in your assessment and allow everyone to propose possible solutions. Then, assign responsibilities and create a schedule that everyone can use to stay on track with your parent’s care.
4. Gather Contact Information
When you live long-distance, much of your communication with your parent’s medical team and other caregivers will be through the telephone. Create a contact list of important phone numbers such as their primary physician, nurse, insurance company and local emergency services. Include contact information for someone who can quickly check on them, such as a nearby neighbor or family friend.
5. Create an Emergency Plan
It is best to prepare for a health crisis or other type of emergency before it happens. Know which airlines offer direct flights and create an emergency fund for travel expenses. Make sure your parent knows how to handle a natural disaster, and prepare a first aid and emergency supply kit that they can easily access within their home.
6. Set Up a Security System
Modern technology has made it easier than ever to ensure that a loved one is safe when you live far away. If your loved one lives independently, then have a security system installed at their home. Video surveillance and medical alert alarms are a few features that are especially helpful for senior adults. Those whose parents live in assisted living or nursing homes can ask about the security features that are put in place to give everyone peace of mind.
7. Keep In Touch
Communication is especially important when you live long-distance from your loved one. Set up regular phone calls, emails and video chats that can allow you to check on your parent’s wellbeing while letting them know you care. Additionally, continue to meet with other members of your support network on a regular basis to discuss if any changes in your plan should be implemented.
Today, families are often scattered throughout the country and even all over the world due to work and financial obligations. While it can be difficult to live far away from your loved ones, you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have the right types of strategies in place to keep them healthy and happy throughout their senior years.
Article courtesy of Senior Path™, a senior housing advisory service in Denver, CO that helps seniors and their families find the perfect living situation.