Caring For Your Parents Long Distance

How To Care For Senior Parents While Being Long Distance


Some Canadians know what it is like to be living far away from their senior parents but a lot do not know how to care for their parents through long distance.  

Seeing senior parents from visit to visit, it will be noticed how quickly they have declined mentally, physically, or emotionally.  Another thing that will happen is that the parents will forget what their doctors told them or will feel if they call their child(ren), that they are a burden to them from afar.  Caring for senior parents is a major hardship.  There is guilt for not being there with your parents or not doing enough while you are there, and sadness in accepting the toll a disease can take, anxietey of frequent and unpredictable travel and fear of the unknown.

Caregiving can work across distances with key strategies , including:

Talk first, Act Later.

Before jumping in and getting super involved with researching online, googling doctors on the World Wide Web, investigating other treatments, start with evaluating your loved ones situation.  If there is more than one child, collectively sit down (or talk on the phone) to come to agreement with how to approach your loved one.  Speak to your loved one to see what is being done by neighbours, friends, local family and the health practitioners.  Speak about future plans, whether homecare will be needed or assisted living facility.

Build a team that works.

Figure out who is in regular contact with your loved one to see if they are wanting to be a part of your care plan idea.  Be clear, in advance, on what type of care is needed and assign everyone tasks best suited to their skills, availability and willingness.

Get to know the locals. 

Research programs and support systems in the community.  Knowing what is around and available, could help your loved one get more support plus be more active in the community.

Keep everyone in the loop.

Long-distance caregivers often feel left out of decisions or get information second hand which may not be the most accurate of information.  Find a way to stay current with everyone and connected so family feuds stay down to a minimum and allow everyone to voice their own opinions.  

Know your limits and stay within them.

Set limits to how much you can afford to take on.  If there are other people willing to help, do not put the whole burden on yourself.  It is not good for you or for the person you are caring for.  It is hard to care for someone while living far away, but setting the limits so you both know what can be handled.

Also, remember your loved one will have limits too.  Make sure you check with them before you set a plan in place to make sure they are comfortable with.Ultimately, if your loved one is lucid and able to make their own decisions, they should be making the final decision.