Caring from A Distance: How to Help Elderly Relatives

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long distance care

It’s not uncommon to live some distance from your parents and elderly relatives. Whether you live in a different town, city, province or even country, it can be hard to figure out how to provide them long distance  care. Especially when you have other family demands and work obligations too. Often the only time that you spend with them is when you visit for extended stay on holidays and vacations, wich means you see their decline more pronounced.

It can make you feel incredibly guilty about the physical distance between you. Thankfully, there are lots of things that you can do to help them get the care and support that they need – physically and emotionally.

Get Them Connected

When people age, their physical abilities can decline. This can lead them to feel isolated from their friends and communities.

Loneliness and isolation can have just as damaging an effect on their sense of wellbeing as their physical ailments. Build connections by:

  • Local Activities

They need to keep busy with inclusive social activities that exercise their mind and body. Their local centers can provide drop-in services and activities. These things are great for helping seniors to develop a new network of friends who share their interests.

  • Internet

Does your relative have access to the internet? No one is too old to enjoy the internet and the connectivity that it brings. Use technology to open your loved one’s world, beyond the four walls of home. Being able to Skype friends and family is a wonderful way to interact face-to-face. You will benefit too as you can see for yourself how they are doing.

  • Technology

Technological innovations, such as a medical alert system, can help your relative feel confident that there is someone who will respond to them in times of need. It helps to remove the ‘what if’ scenario that you are faced with as a long distance care giver.

Manage Their Affairs

Just because there is a physical distance between you, does not mean that you can’t help to manage their affairs. Seniors often worry about how they are going to manage their finances, property or even making day-to-day decisions. It’s prudent to set up an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA), which means that you can act on your relative’s behalf to pay bills, deposit and invest money.

With an EPA in place, you will be able to help them make decisions about their everyday. Now you can provide them long distance care without having to carry the financial burden yourself. Two examples of activities are online grocery shopping and changing utility providers.

Final Words on Long Distance Care

Lastly, while you will worry about your elderly relative, you need to find the balance between helping them and being overbearing. So, talk to them regularly to find out about what their needs are. Make note of their needs and find solutions. That’s instead of just assuming what you suspect to be their needs.

By developing a network of support in their local community, your elderly relatives can retain a sense of independence without being overly dependent on your long distance care and support.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent information. My 90 year old mom is in Canada and I am in Spain. Skyping has been a valuable part of us staying connected. She loves being able to see me. I also have friends and family who live nearby stop in and give me reports. It has worked much better than I thought it would.

  2. Excellent reminder of the importance of social connectedness, feeling a sense of belonging, feeling valued and of being an important part of something and having the courage to face up to all life’s challenges.

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