They say distance makes the heart grow fonder, but living far away from senior parents often causes additional feelings: concern, helplessness, and worry, for example. It’s hard to know exactly how your parents are doing through phone calls, letters, emails, and video chats. There are steps you can take, however, to ensure their health and wellbeing, even with long-distance caregiving, and to take full advantage of your in-person visits.
Communication Is Key
A genuine, open conversation with your parents pertaining to their wishes, goals, and expectations is vital to ensuring their needs are prepared for and met. Start with asking the following types of questions:
- What types of support might be beneficial today? As an example, would your senior loved ones enjoy having assistance with housekeeping, errands, meal preparation? Could they use help with transportation to outings or medical visits?
- How about anticipated future needs? If a long-term illness or even the effects of growing older make it difficult to continue living alone at home, do they envision moving to assisted living? Moving in with a member of the family or friend? Residing at home with in-home care support?
- Are there any modifications to the home they would like to have made, to help make life safer and easier now and in the years to come? For example, would it be beneficial to switch from an upstairs bedroom to a downstairs one? Install a ramp leading up to the front porch? Reorganize frequently-used items to more easily-accessible spots?
- Have you looked into any nearby resources that may be helpful, such as a community senior center for socialization, fitness classes, fun outings, etc.? A local support group for a specific health issue, such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease?
Simple Tips for Helping from a Distance
With answers to these and any other questions in hand, you can then aid in a variety of ways, even from afar, such as with:
- Looking for resources
- Developing a plan with siblings and any other family/friends who are able to help
- Building a list of health care professionals, medications, and other important health information
- Making sure that all legal documents, such as a will, living will, power of attorney, etc. are in order
- Staying in touch frequently via telephone, and visiting in person anytime you can
Making the Most of Visits
When you do have the opportunity to visit in person, you will, of course, want to focus on quality time with your parents. It is also essential, however, to assess how your senior loved ones are doing, the condition of the home, and any other hints that could reveal a care need that has gone undetected. Signs to watch out for include:
- A disheveled, untidy appearance in either or both of your parents
- Stacks of unopened mail, disorder, dirty dishes stacked in the sink, piles of laundry, and any other warning signs that housekeeping tasks aren’t being tended to as they should
- Burn marks on the countertop or bottoms of pans and pots that could indicate inattention to food preparation tasks
- Bruises or any other indications of physical injury that may have resulted from a fall or even elder abuse
- A lack of fresh foods in the house, or expired/spoiled foods
How Home Care Can Help
At Hearts at Home In-Home Care, Mission Hills caregivers serving seniors in the surrounding areas, we are always here to offer as much or as little assistance as required to complement family care, up through and including full-time, live-in care. We are able to provide assistance with grocery shopping, cooking healthy meals, light housekeeping, medication reminders, transportation, and more. We also serve as a friendly companion to ease loneliness and boredom, and to make certain that the needs of seniors are fully met, with any changes in condition reported immediately.
Contact us at 913-440-4209 for more information on how we can provide families living far from senior parents the peace of mind they need with our trusted, award-winning in-home care services. Visit our Service Area page for a full list of the communities where we provide home care.