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Being a Long Distance Caregiver

Caring for aging parents can be difficult, and when you live thousands of miles away, it can come with a whole new set of complications.  How do I make sure they are cared for properly?  How will I respond to (or even know about) medical emergencies?  How will I know if they pay their bills on time? These questions can eat away at you; worse yet, you can’t visit them whenever you wish to calm your fears.  If you are worried about your parents’ well being far away, read our tips below to calm these fears and provide the best support you can from far away.

You Are Not Alone
If you are a child of an aging parent that lives thousands of miles from your parents, the first thing you need to know is that you are not alone.  Nearly 7 million Americans today are caring for aging parents that live far from home, each dealing with the same fears and complications that you are dealing with today.  Once you realize that there are people in your own community going through the same circumstances, you should feel less isolated and guilty for being far away. Reach out to people in your personal life who might help you deal with being a long-distance caregiver.

Get Help from People in Their Neighborhood
One of the easiest ways to calm your fears about your parents well being far from home is to know that people in their neighborhood and community are looking out for them. These community members don’t necessarily have to check up on them every day, but it will calm your fears to know that they are keeping an eye out for them.  If something does go wrong, they can contact you sooner than the authorities would.  If your parents attend church or any other community activities, make it known to the group that you are caring for them from a distance and would like for them to keep an extra eye out for you. Community and church groups will be more than happy to help their fellow patrons and their families.  A great time to ask community members for assistance is when you visit your parents. This will give a more personal touch that will make them want to help you all the more.

See if Family Nearby Can Help
Getting help from your parents’ neighbors and community members is a great way to calm your worries. However, if there are any family members that live close to your parents, ask them if it would be okay for them to check in on occasion. Family will be more comfortable reporting any issues that might arise to you, and they can be more reliable than your parents’ neighbors.  Don’t be afraid to ask family to help even if you feel like it might be a burden.  Family is there to help, and no matter how little they can check in on your parents, you will feel much better knowing someone close to you is there if any problems arise.

Know Your Parents Medical Situation
Knowing your parents’ medical situation is a great way to calm your fears.  By knowing who their doctor is, what medications they are taking, and when they go in for visits, you can track their health more closely. Let their doctor know that you are caring for them from another state and would like to be informed and updated if any medical issues arise.

Make Your Visits Count
When you do visit your parents, make sure their house is safe and comfortable.  Make sure to take care of all possible danger areas, including locks, alarm systems, and tripping hazards.  Being unsure of whether or not your parents are safe in their own house when you live far away can be very unsettling, and by double-checking all these precautions, you can ease your fears.

Be Careful of Moving Your Parents Into Your Home
Be careful about moving your parents to your current home simply because you are worried about them living so far away.  Most aging parents are comfortable with their home, their routine, and their community, and the adjustment to a new environment can be much worse than letting them live in their own home far away from you.  If you feel it necessary to move them to your home, have a lengthy discussion with your parents to ensure they are comfortable with the transition.

Stay in touch
More often than not, simply staying in touch is the most important thing you can do.  There is no need to jump on an airplane whenever you worry about your parents.  By keeping in touch, you can calm the daily fears you are having about their well-being. Furthermore, you will know about any developing issues before they get too serious. This way you can be prepared for a medical crisis if it arises.  Sometimes the best thing you can do for your parents is to just talk to them.

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