We all want to be on the front line when it comes to taking care of our parents as they age. It’s important to us to know that they are in good hands, and we are aware that no one can understand their needs better than we do. Our parents raised us; they took care of us from the moment we were born, and they may still be taking care of us in some way or another.
That is why many of us feel passionately responsible for caring for them. We are not only returning the favor of everything they did for us, we also want them to be in the best hands possible. We tend to think this is only possible with someone who understands what they are going through and who feels like home. The main issue is that as adults, we spend most of our time away from home or being parents ourselves.
Many of us don’t live at our childhood homes or their current residences. Worse so, there are situations where our parents live in another state hundreds of miles away from us. There is no shortage of worry and guilt to go around as the children of elderly parents. According to Where You Live Matters, “About 15 percent of caregivers in the U.S are long-distance caregivers living an average of 450 miles away”.
Luckily, there are different ways in which you can take care of older adults, whether you are far from home or just a couple of hours away from your loved ones. Below, we will be walking you through various ways to support them as a family caregiver.
- Evaluate Your Options
The first thing that you will want to do is evaluate the options that are available to you. Some of us can do daily visits to our parents, where we can see their situation with our own eyes and help them improve their lives while providing them quality company. On the other hand, some people live far away from their parents and don’t have the option to visit regularly.
In this case, consider whether you know any trustworthy people around them. They can be neighbors, another member of the family who lives nearby, or friends who feel like family and would love to care for them. Lastly, if there is no one around, you can see if there are any caregiving facilities with home care options available that can attend to your loved ones’ needs professionally.
- Plan Family Time
Just like at any other point of their lives, our aging parents feel a desire for family time spent close to home, to their loved ones, and to everyone they feel close to. If the option exists for you, consider keeping them in the loop of your family plans and including them on the invite list. Family time can be anything from a phone call to planning a visit to their home. The main thing is making them feel socially engaged to avoid health decline for seniors caused by social isolation.
When it comes to planning family time, remember that your parents are not quite up to the task of planning it out like they did with your childhood birthday parties. Be prepared and willing to do everything from scheduling it with them, sending out the invitations, and orchestrating any party necessities. Your parents want to spend their golden years with you and everyone they love and by intentionally scheduling time to spend with them, you will communicate the love and appreciation you have for them while keeping them healthy and safe.
- Stay Connected
There are different ways in which you can stay up to date with your aging loved one’s caregiving. Over the last few decades, technology has changed the game entirely and allowed us to be with them even when we are away. This can be done through the use of smart technology such as video calls, remote monitoring and surveillance, as well as smartwatches designed for their specific needs. According to the Angel Watch Website, technology such as this is “essential for elderly family members alone or those suffering from memory degenerative diseases…. some devices allow you to communicate, monitor, and locate your vulnerable loved one anytime, anywhere.”
If you are one of the many individuals who are not within visiting distance of your loved ones, making use of all available tools to monitor them remotely and keep track of what they do daily can be a great substitute. If you currently have your loved one in assisted living, memory care, or some other long-term care facility, make sure to ask them about the options available to you as their caregiver to check in on them remotely as well.
At the end of the day, taking care of your elderly parents is about evaluating all available options, understanding what we can do for them, and always looking to be the best caregivers possible for their unique needs. While it can be incredibly stressful and challenging, it can be manageable with some strategic planning and effort backed by some of the methods mentioned above. In today’s world, you can assist your loved ones from a distance or from right down the hall. We hope these tips will help make your caregiving experience just a little bit easier.