As parents age, their families face challenges in providing them with care, especially if they live far away. Long-distance caregiving can overcome the difficulties caused by great distances through careful planning, effective communication, and the wise use of available resources.
It’s also important to remember that families of aging parents are not alone. Organizations such as Aging Life Care Association can provide assistance in connecting families with the care they need for their parents. Non-emergency medical transport (NEMT) companies also provide valuable services, booking travel accommodations for elderly parents and also providing specially trained flight nurses to travel with them.
Common Issues When Supporting Aging Parents From Afar
Adult children face a variety of issues when providing long-distance caregiving to elderly parents. However, they can better address those issues if they consider the following common challenges and potential solutions.
Communication and Coordination: Facilitating Caregiving Efforts
Maintaining open and regular communication with aging parents is crucial for long-distance caregiving. Regular phone calls or video chats allow you to check in on your parents’ well-being, as well as get a detailed understanding of their daily routines. By practicing active listening and offering emotional support, you can make them cared for while also identifying any areas of concern. Communication also keeps you informed about their health, medical appointments, and any changes in their medication or treatment plans.
Establish a Local Support Network
Reach out to friends, neighbors, and other family members who live close to your aging parents. They can help you establish a support network that helps you monitor what is happening with your parents, as well as assist with transportation, grocery shopping, home maintenance, and even companionship. Building a network of trusted individuals ensures your parents have someone nearby who can respond to emergencies or provide assistance when needed.
Financial and Legal Considerations: Navigating Responsibilities
Helping your aging parents organize legal and financial affairs can provide both them and you with valuable peace of mind. Encourage your parents to create or update essential financial and legal documents, including wills, investment portfolios, powers of attorney, and healthcare directives from physicians. Familiarize yourself with their financial accounts, insurance policies, and retirement plans. Consider consulting with a professional, such as an elder law attorney or financial advisor, to navigate legal and financial complexities. Having a clear understanding of their wishes and being prepared can alleviate stress and ensure better decision-making in the future.
Arrange Visits and Plan Quality Time
Schedule regular visits to spend quality time with aging parents. These visits are not only an opportunity to provide hands-on care but also a chance to create lasting memories. Plan activities that your parents enjoy and cherish, such as going for walks, sharing meals, or engaging in hobbies. These moments strengthen your bond and show your commitment to their well-being. During visits, assess their living conditions, address any safety concerns, and make necessary adjustments to enhance their comfort and security.
Emotional Support and Self-Care: Caring for Yourself while Caring for Others
Providing long-distance caregiving to parents is rewarding, but it can also take a physical and emotional toll. It’s crucial for caregivers to prioritize their own self-care. Taking care of oneself while caring for aging parents is not selfish, Rather, it’s an essential step to take for maintaining overall well-being and providing the best possible care.
Because it’s a long-distance situation, caring for aging parents can evoke a wide range of emotions, including stress, sadness, guilt, and frustration. It’s crucial to acknowledge and process these emotions. It’s also key to take time to engage in activities that promote emotional well-being, such as talking to a supportive friend, journaling, or seeking professional counseling.
Supporting aging parents from afar requires thoughtful planning, effective communication, and the use of available resources. With long-distance caregiving that focuses on dedication and proactive caregiving, adult children can make a positive difference in their aging parents’ lives.