It is hard to watch our loved ones age. As our parents get older and are able to do less on their own, needing assistance to drive to the doctor or the grocery store, and help remembering when to take what medications, often the responsibilities of helping them get through the tasks of daily life fall on the children. But what if you are a child who doesn’t live close to your parents? It is a situation that is not uncommon. Whether for marriage or career, many of us end up living our adult lives miles away from where we were raised as children. Or maybe your parents decided to move somewhere new in retirement, leaving them more than a few miles’ drive from your home and family.
It is important to remember that just because you don’t live nearby doesn’t mean you don’t care. There are many ways to be a part of the caregiving process for elderly parents, even when you can’t be there on a daily basis. Here are a few ways to help stay involved:
- Offer to take over the paperwork. Keeping up with the bills, taxes, and other administrative type duties of a household is something that can easily be done from a remote situation. Talk with the caregiver who is with your parents on a regular basis to see what you can take over to help ease their burden.
- Make sure you have contact information. It is important for you to have the pertinent phone numbers and contact information for the pharmacy, doctors, caregivers and friends who visit your parents regularly, and stay in communication with them on a regular basis to remain well-informed about your parents’ health.
- Plan your visits in advance. Sometimes it might feel that when you do get a chance to visit, your time is filled up but you don’t get anything meaningful accomplished. Planning can help. Talk with the primary caregiver before your visit to ask what tasks you could do to give them a break. Also talk with your parent to find out what they would like to do with you, and make that a priority, rather than trying to do everything in one visit.
- Communicate regularly. You might not be able to show up in person each day, but that doesn’t mean you can’t communicate daily. Consider getting your parents a smart phone, if they don’t already have one, and teach them how to use Skype or Facetime. This is a good way to say hi, but also for you to see their faces and have a better understanding of how they are doing.
- Find support. It is normal for a long distance caregiver to feel frustrated or guilty. Knowing you are not alone is a great way to find encouragement. Look for a local support group of other long distance caregivers to help with the stress and anxiety of being away from elderly parents.
For many long distance caregivers who don’t have another family member able to step in a care for their parents, finding a trusted home health professional is a big piece of the puzzle of caring for loved ones. If you are looking for help caring for a parent in the Winston-Salem area, contact us at Piedmont Home Health. We are here to give your loved ones the compassionate care you would yourself, and we know the importance of regular communication and working with family members to ensure continuity of care.
If you would like to learn more about the nutrition needs of older adults, or the services provided Piedmont Home Health, call us today at 336-724-1197.