When your parent or elderly relative lives far away from you, it can be challenging to figure out how you can assist them if they become sick, infirm or frail. What would you do if you couldn’t leave your family or your job to provide regular care for your loved one?
Fortunately, there are ways to help them get what they require, even if you are not able to be there with them all the time. Yes, it can be difficult but with some time and careful planning you can help to meet their needs.
It’s kind of important that some type of assessment be made to determine the extent of help your elderly loved one needs. The best thing to do would be to pay them a visit yourself. Make careful observations; even write down some notes to help you remember. Here are some things to be on the lookout for:
- What is their diet like? Do they have the kitchen stocked with healthy foods? Does it look like they can still fix their own meals or are they eating out a lot?
- Do they still have a social life? Are they interacting well with others?
- Are they able to handle their own finances? Are bills being paid on time?
- Safety check of the house: are there repairs that need to be made? Do hazards like loose rugs need to be removed? Is the lighting adequate?
- Ask them how things are going. Are other people already providing help? If so, exchange contact information with them in case you need it in the future.
- See what kinds of Aging services are available in their local area so they can use them now or in the future if needed.
Now that the assessment is done, you need to figure out ways you can help them from afar; things that you can do while you are at their house before you leave to go back home, and have the assistance fit in with their desires and still encourage their independence as long as possible.
Possibly you can help them set up some money-managing helps, such as automatic payment of utility bills directly from their checking account.
Find out if the people who are helping are able to or interested in doing more. If so, make arrangements while you are there. Keep in regular contact with these people and make sure you send thank you cards and holiday cards; keep the lines of communication and make them feel appreciated.
Is it feasible to move your loved one closer to you? If that’s a possibility, it may be worth looking into. If not, you may want to arrange for an in home caregiver at some point in time.