It is said that distance makes the heart grow fonder, but long distance care for aging parents might cause additional feelings: worry, concern, and helplessness, to mention a few. It is hard to understand just how your parents are doing through phone calls, video chats, emails, and letters. There are several actions you can take, however, to ensure their health and wellbeing, even when you’re not nearby, and to take full advantage of your in-person visits.
Communication Is Key
An honest, open talk with your parents about their expectations, wishes, and goals is vital to ensuring their needs are prepared for and met. Start by asking these types of questions:
- What types of assistance might be helpful today? For instance, would senior loved ones enjoy having help with errands or meal preparation? Could they use help with transportation to outings or medical appointments?
- How about envisioned future needs? If a long-term illness or the effects of aging make it hard to continue living alone in the home, do they envision moving to assisted living? Moving in with a family member or friend? Staying at home with in-home care help?
- Are there any alterations to the home they would like to have made, to make life safer and easier now and in the years to come? For instance, 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 areas?
- Have you looked at any local resources that may be helpful, such as a community senior center for socialization, fitness classes, fun outings, etc.? An area support group for a certain health issue, like Parkinson’s or dementia?
Tips on How to Offer Assistance from Afar
With answers to these and any other questions at hand, you can then help 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
- Putting together a list of doctors, medications, and other important health information
- Ensuring all legal documentation, such as a will, living will, power of attorney, etc. are in order
- Staying in contact via phone, and visiting in person whenever possible
Making the Most of Visits
Anytime 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 important, however, to evaluate how your parents are doing, the condition of the home, and any other signs that could indicate 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, clutter, dirty dishes piled up in the sink, piles of clothing, and any other warning signs that housekeeping tasks aren’t being tended to as they should
- Burn marks on the countertop or bottoms of pots and pans that may indicate inattention to food preparation tasks
- Bruises or other evidence of physical trauma which could have resulted from a fall or even elder abuse
- A lack of fresh foods in the home, or expired/spoiled foods
How Home Care Can Help with Distance Care
At At-Home Care Company, a trusted local provider of Des Moines dementia care and home care in the surrounding areas, we are always here to offer as much or as little support as needed to supplement family care, up through and including full-time, live-in care. We are able to help with medication reminders, transportation, and much more. We also serve as a friendly companion to ease isolation and loneliness, and to make sure that the needs of seniors are fully met, with any changes in condition reported immediately.
Contact us at 515-292-2650 to learn more about how we can provide families living at a distance from senior parents the peace of mind they need with our trustworthy, award-winning in-home care solutions. For a full list of the communities we serve, visit our Service Area page.