People say distance makes the heart grow fonder, but living far away from aging parents can cause additional feelings: helplessness, worry, and concern, for example. It’s hard to know exactly how older loved ones are doing through telephone calls, video chats, emails, and letters. There are many steps family caregivers can take, however, to ensure the health and wellbeing of aging parents, even from far away, and to make the most of in-person visits.
Communication Is Crucial
A genuine, open discussion with your parents concerning their wishes, goals, and expectations is crucial to ensuring their needs are prepared for and met. Start by asking these kinds of questions:
- What kinds of support might be worthwhile today? For instance, would your parents enjoy having help with housework, meals, and running errands? Could they use help with transportation to outings or medical visits?
- What about anticipated future care needs? If a long-term illness or perhaps the effects of growing older make it difficult to continue living alone at home, can they envision relocating to assisted living? Moving in with a relative or friend? Residing at home with in-home care help?
- Are there any changes to the home your aging loved ones would like to have made, to make life safer and easier now and in the future? As an example, would it be helpful to switch from an upstairs bedroom to a downstairs one? Install a ramp leading up to the front porch? Reorganize commonly-used items to more easily-accessible areas?
- Have you looked at any nearby resources that may be helpful, such as a community senior center for socialization, fitness classes, fun outings, etc.? An area support group for a particular health issue, like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease?
How to Help from a Distance
With answers to these and any other questions in hand, you can then assist in a variety of ways, even from afar, such as by:
- Looking for resources
- Putting together a plan with siblings and any other family/friends that may help
- Building a list of doctors, medications, and other important health information
- Ensuring all legal files, such as a will, living will, power of attorney, etc. are in order
- Remaining in contact frequently via phone, and visiting in person whenever you can
Making the Most of Visits
Anytime you are able to visit in person, you will, of course, want to focus on quality time with your parents. It’s also essential, however, to evaluate how your senior loved ones are doing, the condition of the home, and any other signs that could suggest a care need that has gone undetected. Signs to watch out for include:
- A messy, untidy appearance in either or both of your parents
- Stacks of unopened mail, clutter, dirty dishes stacked in the sink, piles of laundry, and any other indications that homemaking tasks aren’t being tended to the way they should
- Burn marks on the counter or underside of pots and pans that may indicate inattention to food preparation tasks
- Bruises or other evidence of physical injury that may have resulted from a fall or even elder abuse
- A lack of fresh foods in the home, or expired/spoiled foods
How Senior Care Can Help Family Caregivers Living at a Distance
At Live Free Home Health Care, a trusted local provider of home care in Bristol, NH and the surrounding areas, we’re always here to offer as much or as little support as needed to complement family care, up through and including full-time, live-in care. We are able to help with grocery shopping, cooking healthy meals, light housekeeping, medication reminders, transportation, plus much more. We also serve as a friendly companion to ease isolation and boredom, and to make certain that the needs of seniors are fully met, with any changes in condition reported immediately.
Reach out to us at 603-217-0149 to learn more about how we can offer families living far from senior loved ones the peace of mind they need with our reliable, award-winning in-home care solutions. Visit our Service Area page to see a full list of the communities where we offer care.