By: Janice Thompson
Caring for aging parents can be challenging, especially when they live far away. Whether you live in a different city or abroad, the guilt of not being there to help can take an emotional toll on you. Apart from this, you may also have to deal with the expenses that come with long-distance caregiving. While you can't always be there for your parents in person, there are so many ways to help them. Keep reading to know how to go about it.
Try to understand how much assistance your parents need so you can figure out how you can be of help. Generally, the help your parents need may fall under family support, medical needs, mobility, personal hygiene, meal preparation, safety, social interaction, or cognitive health needs. Look closely to determine how much support they're already getting in each category from you or other family members and how much more help they'll need to stay happy and safe. Take a mental note of the needs you identify and write them down for easy reference.
Afterward, you can go ahead and discuss with your parents the help you intend to render. It's very important to involve your parents when planning for their care so they see you more as a partner rather than a dictator trying to make unsolicited changes to their lives. If you leave them in the dark, they may feel that they're being treated like children and that their opinions are not valued.
We all have our limitations. If you take on too much, you may burn out emotionally, physically, or financially, to the point that you're unable to help yourself or your parents. So, before assuming you can single-handedly cater to all your parents' needs, stop to evaluate your own abilities and needs. Making an honest assessment will prevent you from getting yourself into a commitment that you can't sustain.
For instance, since food, home safety modifications, and caregiving supplies cost money, you shouldn't instantly commit to sending money regularly for your parents' upkeep without proper thought and planning. So, you must estimate the future cost and be prepared for it. You wouldn't want to raise their hope only to dash it after a few months.
Take the necessary steps to prevent accidents that can seriously harm your aging parents. For instance, if your parents have fallen in the past or if they have difficulty with balance or walking, you should ensure they have non-slip surfaces in the shower or bathtub. You can consider installing well-anchored grab bars by the bath and toilet to enable them to sit and stand. Also, consider securing loose rugs with slip-resistant backing or double-faced tapes. And ensure that their home is brightly lit so they don't trip on objects that are difficult to see.
No matter the measures you take, you can't totally protect your parents from accidents when they're on commercial properties or taking a stroll around the block. According to The Barnes Firm, a slip and fall lawyer for accident injuries, ''A commercial property owner (or one of their employees) will be held liable for your injuries in circumstances where they caused the accident, knew about a hazard but neglected to take care of it, or if they should have known - but were unaware - about the hazardous circumstances that ultimately caused your injury.'' The most you can do to prevent such accidents from occurring is ensure that your parents have the right shoes - sturdy flat shoes with nonskid soles.
Depending on how far away from home you live and your finances, you can consider making plans to visit your parents and spend quality time with them. During such visits, you can simply relax together, go for a drive, play cards, or join them in any of their hobbies. Your parents will appreciate such visits.
If they can travel, you might even want to consider encouraging them to visit you in your home. This can be an exciting experience for you and them since they'll get to see you in person and experience your new life for themselves.
You shouldn't feel guilty about living far away from your parents or other family members if you're truly satisfied with your decision. Try to go easy on yourself, maintain communication with your folks and tell them how much you love and miss them when discussing over the phone or video chatting.