Learning how to help elderly parents from a distance is top-of-mind for many families amid a rapidly aging population. With the 65 and older population in the US skyrocketing five times faster than the total population, families, especially those who live far away, are on the hunt for trustworthy care options for their elderly parents.
Sometimes the need to pull together a long-distance care plan can happen suddenly in the case of a fall or acute health event. But often, the needs start slowly. It may begin with needs for help with small things like juggling appointments, making home accommodations to ensure an accessible and safe living environment, checking in or providing companionship to ward off loneliness – which we know is so common with seniors.
Over time it may entail helping with finances, navigating medical insurance options and endless paperwork, arranging professional care and even making the toughest of healthcare decisions. In any case, the good news is that there are increasing numbers of resources for those living far away from elderly parents. And the more planning you can do ahead of time, the better prepared you will be for when those needs arise.
The challenges that come with taking care of older parents remotely do not have to result in stress and strained family dynamics. That’s why we wrote this guide to help caregivers who support elderly parents from afar with common concerns.
Questions like, ‘How can I help my elderly parents who live far away?’ or ‘How can I help my elderly parent remotely?’ are familiar to many. With reliable help and the right strategies, distance does not need to be a barrier to providing love, support and assistance.
The Importance of Reliable Help with Senior Parents
Finding reliable assistance for your parents is about more than just fulfilling their immediate needs – it’s equally important that it reduces some of your day-to-day pressure and provides you with peace of mind. Discovering reliable and trustworthy ways to support your parents can significantly lower stress levels for you and with the right resources, you can confidently ensure the well-being of your parents’ care. And of course, having a well-designed support system can enrich their overall quality of life.
As we explore the importance of reliable support, let’s highlight the significant benefits it brings to the lives of our aging parents – and to us.
The Benefits for Aging Parents:
Our parents value their independence and strive to maintain it for as long as possible. Reliable assistance can act as a safety net while also empowering your parents, fostering a sense of independence. By providing this support, your parents may feel less burdensome and experience reduced guilt, knowing they don’t have to rely solely on you for help. This collective effort significantly impacts their well-being and self-assurance.
Improved Mental Health
Reliable support opens doors to social engagement, a vital aspect of well-being. Loneliness and isolation can profoundly affect health; studies indicate that loneliness can be as detrimental as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Having reliable social connections can greatly help in supporting your elderly parents emotionally. It can also assist in building meaningful relationships and promoting social engagement.
Enhanced Physical Well-being
At the end of the day, ensuring your parents have access to the right support services plays a crucial role in promoting better health outcomes. This support encompasses vital tasks such as medication adherence and regular check-ins, serving as a pivotal aspect in maintaining their overall well-being.
The Benefits for Families:
Peace of Mind
Providing care for your aging parents from a distance can induce worry and stress, making it a difficult task to ensure their well-being. However, having confidence in a stable and reliable support system can offer a profound sense of peace and security.
When you have the confidence that your parents are well-supported and share the responsibilities among other family members and support resources, it’s a win-win situation for everyone involved. This lowers the pressures of caregiving and fosters a stronger family bond. Parents will appreciate knowing they’ve alleviated some of your burdens – and you will enjoy better quality time together when you do visit.
Moreover, having a designated emergency contact nearby or a trusted neighbor available during critical moments offers immediate reassurance and support. This invaluable assistance ensures smoother transitions during unforeseen events and provides essential and prompt medical care.
Practical Strategies for Long-Distance Caregiving
Despite not being physically present, employing effective strategies can provide you with peace of mind, ensuring your parents have their needs met. Here are seven tips to help you better navigate taking care of older parents.
Establish Regular Communication:
Communication serves as the cornerstone of long-distance caregiving. You may wonder, “How often should you call your elderly parents?” Maintaining consistent contact, be it through phone calls, video chats or messaging, bridges the physical gap and fosters a sense of connection. This routine keeps family members informed, adjusting as your parents’ needs evolve. Encourage open dialogue and offer guidance but be respective of your parents’ sensitivities to giving up some of their independence.
Create an Informal Support Network:
Building a local network of support can mean all the difference in your parents’ well-being and ease your worries about not being physically available. Involving nearby relatives, friends and neighbors ensures occasional check-ins, light assistance or emergency aid. Consider utilizing online platforms like Iana or group chats to coordinate caregiving tasks among network members. The right support system can help answer questions surrounding major concerns like, “How do you help aging parents stay in their home?”
Embrace the multitude of technological tools available for remote caregiving. Smart home devices for seniors such as motion sensors, smart locks, and video monitoring systems contribute to enhanced safety and security. Additionally, medication reminder apps and wearable health trackers play a pivotal role in managing their well-being from afar. With the rapid pace of innovation and the increasing acceptance of technology among seniors, including AI-driven solutions, it stands as one of the most effective solutions to assist aging parents in maintaining their independence at home.
Financial and Legal Planning:
Often overlooked but immensely important, organizing your parents’ finances and legal affairs is crucial. Help them manage accounts, set up automated bill payments and educate them on potential financial scams. Ensure updated wills, advance directives, power of attorney and relevant healthcare-related documentation are in place to alleviate stress during healthcare crises.
Investigate Formal Support Services:
As your parents’ care requirements intensify over time, it becomes essential to explore the diverse range of professional caregiving services and understand the support each one offers. For tasks such as personal care, including bathing and toileting, home care services might be a suitable solution. If you are thinking, ‘my mom has dementia and I live far away,’ consulting a dementia-trained specialist can aid in evaluating their specific needs and devising an appropriate care plan. A broad spectrum of resources is available, encompassing geriatric care services, Area Agencies on Aging and various community-based support systems.
Stay Attuned to Care Needs:
Even with a proficient care team in place, scheduling regular in-person visits remains crucial to grasp a comprehensive understanding of your parent’s health status and medical conditions. Aside from the evident emotional benefits derived from quality time together, these visits enable you to observe any health changes, accompany them to medical appointments, assess the safety of their living environment and discuss crucial decisions such as increased care needs or transitioning to senior living.
Know Your Limits and Seek Support:
Remember, you don’t have to navigate this alone—your time and energy may have constraints, and that’s perfectly normal. Respite care is imperative. Allocate time for activities that rejuvenate you, like meditation, exercise or hobbies. Consider tapping into online caregiver support groups or hiring a professional caregiver to provide respite care when needed. As they say, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”
At the end of the day, embrace the unexpected and adapt. Be prepared for the unexpected changes that come with aging, whether it’s shifts in your parent’s health or circumstances. Even with good planning, it’s important to be flexible and understanding, and adjust your caregiving approach as needed.
Naborforce: A Critical Resource for Families Who Need a Helping Hand
As we’ve discussed, the journey to care for our elderly parents is a complex one, with ever changing challenges. When supporting your aging parent from a distance, think of it as piecing together a complex puzzle. Each element must fit seamlessly to ensure a reliable and secure solution that brings comfort to everyone involved.
Naborforce is a perfect resource for families who don’t need formal care for their parents yet, but could use a helping hand from time to time. We play an important role in the complex puzzle of caregiving.
Our mission is simple: assist your parents in leading independent, joyful and fulfilling lives. Our Nabors are ready to help with daily tasks like cooking, cleaning and organizing. They can also drive seniors to the grocery store and doctor appointments.=
A short visit from a trusted Nabor can help families with elderly parents bridge that gap between full independence and formal care. It provides reassurance and allows them to be more independent.
If you’re seeking in-home and around-town help for your senior parents, reach out to us at 844.MY.NABOR or sign up your parents today. Our mission is to create a fulfilling life for your loved ones, regardless of the distance separating you.
We provide services in the following locations: