How to Care for Elderly Parents When You Don’t Live Close
It’s probably more important now than ever to look out and care for your elderly parents.
Not only has there been a higher risk of an infectious virus, but due to the pandemic, many have been isolated in their own homes and cut off from the outside world. So whether it is virtually or safely in-person, it is important to keep in contact and provide the care that is needed for them. You will, of course, already know this, but what are the best ways to go about it while also looking after yourself? Consider all of the following when trying to do the best for your parents, while not living close by.
Make a plan & involve your parents
One of the biggest obstacles you will face, depending on everyone’s individual situation, is convincing your parents that you are trying to help them by providing some support, whether this comes from you or someone else. However, the one thing that can make this process more strenuous is not involving your parents in discussions about their care. They should be able to have some sort of interest and understand why they are being cared for in the ways that will be discussed.
Ask for help
If you live far away, providing regular support can be extremely difficult, which is why you will need to ask for help. This can be from other members of the family who perhaps live nearby or even a trustworthy friend. It is always better to go through a process like this with others. Your parents need your support, but with a busy life, this is usually impossible to do alone, although you might think it isn’t.
Take a step back and consider how much strain this could put on you and the rest of your family, and then decide whether to and to what extent you should ask for support. When living far away, getting support from a family friend or in a professional manner is normally the best way to proceed.
Although you may be a very busy person and live far away, there is alway something you can do to help your parents thanks to technology. Regularly check in with your parents with phone and video calls, preferably the latter as it is always better for them to see your face. Make sure they are set up and know how to use the technology so you can contact them whenever you need to or whenever they need to get in contact with you. However, don’t overdo it. They should still have their own freedom to a certain extent, depending on your particular circumstances, so check in regularly but as much as they are comfortable with.
Emergency contacts & security
Get to know the people that surround your parents, whether that’s neighbours of friends of theirs. Ensure that they know the situation and appoint a select few of them as emergency contacts. If there is an emergency, these people need to be able to deal with the situation until you are able to get there to help. Exchange contact details and make sure they know what to do in specific crisis situations.
Plan enjoyable visits
If you are unable to visit your parents regularly due to distance, then these visits can often become taxing. Visits can become a formality and struggle focused on caregiving. They should be moments to enjoy the time with your parents rather than worrying about caring for them when you are there. It is for this reason that enjoyable visits should be planned. Of course, you won’t be able to avoid visits to provide care if you are looking after them in a number of ways, but at least try to plan specific visits where you can come over with the intention of simply spending time with them.
Explore other living arrangements
Your parents may need lots of attention and care. If you or your parents aren’t comfortably allowing someone else to do this when you aren’t there, then the final option is to move closer. This should be considered a last resort, because you shouldn’t have to shift your entire life to care for your parents toward the end of their lives, but sometimes there is no other option. Even just renting somewhere nearby where you can offer your support much more conveniently could be a solution to any concern about caregiving from a distance.
Find a reliable carer/professional support
Obviously, part of asking for support is getting someone reliable to do the job, but you also don’t want to leave yourself out of pocket. Sometimes, if you want the most reliable help you will have to pay, but the most important thing is that you and your parents trust the carer/s and have a positive relationship. Meet with them and take the time necessary to make a decision because, depending on the situation, a carer will be with your parents more than you are, so they need to be trustworthy, reliable and get along with your parents.
If you live far away and need someone to drop in and see your parents or grandparents, sit down and chat to them for a period of time or carry out light jobs such as washing up or washing clothes, we can help. Our Dependable Caring service can be tailor-made to your needs. It can be carried out on a daily/weekly/monthly basis and for as long or as short a time as you require.