Whether you’ve moved or your parents have relocated to a retirement or nursing home, caring for them from afar provides a means of staying connected. There are some ways to make the best of your circumstances and ensure that your loved ones are well-taken care of, even if you live hundreds or thousands of miles apart.
Stay In Touch
No matter how old you get, you’ll always be a child in your parent’s eyes. They’ve raised you, and though you are living on your own, it's important to give back by taking the time to communicate with them as often as you can. According to Psychology Today, estrangement is more common than we may think. As many as 7 percent of children are estranged from their mothers, while 27 percent don’t communicate with their fathers. Approximately 60 percent of the estranged parents and children wish to procure a relationship with their relatives, according to The Spruce.
Regardless of the type of relationship you have, communication is key. Thanks to modern technology, we can easily talk on the phone, on Skype, via instant message or through social media. Apps such as AARP Caregiving allow you to stay in touch and keep track of health records and other services (like doctor’s visits) all in one easy place so you can juggle important tasks all at once. Other modes of communication, such as the lost art of letter writing, shows a more intimate means of displaying affection for your loved ones. Remember, even if your loved ones are living in a senior community, they want to hear from you.
Seek Help From Others
You may have your own family to look after while you also take long-distance care of an elderly relative, which makes it difficult to do it all alone. Even if they receive care in a nursing home or assisted living facility, enlist the help of friends, family and even healthcare providers to ease some of the burden.
Additionally, it is important to ensure that your parent has an adequate ride to and from their residence. Even if they receive assistance from their care facility with errands like picking up medication and groceries, your loved one should have a way to leave for social outings. There are many options available, such as public transportation services, Lyft/Uber and even senior shuttles, that will provide transportation at a discount so your loved one will be able to maintain his or her independence.
Nutrition and Fitness
If your loved one resides in a senior living community, they should have plenty of options for eating healthful meals and getting physical activity. You can further ensure their overall wellness by arming them with healthy-living tools from afar. For example, you can send your mother who is reluctant to attend her water aerobics classes, seeds, soil, flower pots, and a spade so she can burn some calories through gardening. If your father’s freezer is loaded with sodium-filled TV dinners, sign him up for a meal or grocery delivery service to encourage him to eat and if possible, cook healthy (and delicious) meals.
Ensuring that your loved one’s life remains as fulfilling as possible even when you aren’t physically there can be tricky. It’s important to consider your time and be open to the help of others so that your elderly parent remains as happy and healthy as possible.
Contributed by: Marie Villeza, ElderImpact.