In today’s mobile society, it isn’t unusual for children to live far away from their parents. But when you need to be a primary, or even secondary, caregiver for a parent, being even an hour away can seem too far. The National Institute on Aging estimated that about 7 million elderly parents have long-distance caregivers.
Unfortunately in many situations, the long-distance caregiver cannot easily become closer. Many children have left their hometowns to take employment elsewhere. In today’s job market, it may not be possible to leave a job across the country and expect to get another one closer to a parent. So it is crucial to your peace of mind and to your parent’s well-being to figure out ways to make the responsibilities easier.
One of the easiest techniques is to use technology to keep up with your long-distance responsibilities. If your parents have any interest in computers, use them. Get them everything they need to be online. Go to a training class with them. Teach them Skype. These are great ways for you to actually see what is going on. And seniors who use computers can be exercising their minds as well.
But if technology is not an option, what are some other ways to manage your parents’ care from miles away? One of the best ways to make a plan is to have a baseline assessment. Use your next vacation to spend at least a few days at your parents’ home. Make notes about things you see that could be improved or should be monitored. Have them schedule a doctor appointment while you are in town and go with them. Ask any questions of the doctor that concern you. Let the doctor know that you cannot monitor them on a daily basis and ask for signs you should look for that you can assess from far away.
If you don’t have relatives in the area, rely on friends. Maybe you still have childhood friends there who spent time at your parents’ home. Ask them to stop in and visit or call or take your parents out for a meal. If that option isn’t available, consider professional help. A home health care agency can provide regular visits and let you know if anything is wrong. Whatever the solution, give yourself the ability to enjoy your own life while making sure that your parents are well cared for.