4 Tips for Caring for Aging Parents from a Distance
Living far away from older loved ones can make the need for home care easier to overlook. The truth is, however, many adult children of senior parents don't even realize that Mom and Dad need assistance until they come home for a visit or spend prolonged time together during the course of the holidays. If you’re a family caregiver who lives far apart from your aging parents, it ends up being that much more pressing to have a plan in place for crisis situations and care. New Horizons In-Home Care’s experts in elder care in Eugene, Oregon and the surrounding area have developed these helpful strategies to assist those caring for aging parents from a distance.
Plan in AdvanceWhen you can’t just drive across town to help, it is important to have family dialogues about the “what ifs” that might occur with your loved ones, like:
- Living situation choices determined by severity and who is involved - think through some scenarios for debate; for example, a fractured knee calling for a rehab stay.
- How will you recognize when “it’s time” to make a change? What would this look like?
- Financial concerns in providing care, such as how much time off work can family members afford to miss? What types of financial assistance might be accessible?
- Advance directives for making decisions: make sure all is in order and retain a copy for yourself.
Re-evaluate Along the WayWhen you can't see your senior parents every day, it can be tempting to want to ignore the often uncomfortable business of assessing health and wellbeing in favor of simply enjoying each other’s company, but it’s necessary to regularly give thought to and evaluate how your senior parents are really doing.
- Identify the RN who is working with your loved ones' health care provider and stay in communication with that person.
- Make sure there is a HIPAA Release of Information Form on file at all of your parents’ physicians' offices so you can talk openly with the medical professionals, and keep one for yourself.
- Have frequent phone contact with your senior loved ones to check in and help them resolve any issues.
- Maintain a list of the informal local resources: neighbors, friends, other relatives who can be part of your aging parents' support network. Touch base regularly with that network and make sure they know how to get in touch with you and that you encourage their calls.
Identify When to Travel and When to Stay HomeIssues are bound to arise, at times at a moment’s notice. You cannot travel for each problem, so make a decision beforehand when you will travel and when you will use other resources to provide support.
- Ask your parents if this is a genuine medical or care emergency. As a part (not all) of your decision-making, ask the physician, social worker, or nurse for more details and his/her suggestion on whether you should travel in.
- Could somebody else locally take care of the issue at hand or eyeball the scenario for you?
- It’s OK to go there just to put your mind at ease as well. If staying home and being worried will be less effective for you, then maybe you should go.
Consider Using New Horizons In-Home CareIn-home senior care can not only provide excellent care for older individuals, it can also give long-distance family members a greater sense of peace and connection. At New Horizons In-Home Care, our professional care providers have specialized training and can:
- Evaluate the situation
- Recognize problems, gaps, strengths and resources
- Keep track of health, activity, nutrition, etc.
- Screen and arrange for other services and assistance
- Work together with financial, legal and medical providers
- Communicate regularly with family members
- And much more