Cindy J. of Burlingame sent us a question about her challenges with living far from her elderly parents. She finds that she doesn’t really know what is going on with them because they live in Ohio and she lives in California. She is worried about how their health and living situation really is because she lives too far away to keep tabs on them. Here is her question:
Cindy asks, “My parents are 82 and 85 years old, and live in Ohio and I live in California. I am concerned about them because every time I call and talk to my mother she tells me everything is OK, but yet in the same breath she tells me that dad has fallen and ended up in the emergency room a few days before. Either she is in denial and things are not great health-wise and she does not want to worry me, or she really believes that they are OK. I have no siblings to help me, and I worry about them constantly because I live so far away. What can I do to find out the real story and stay close to them when we live so far away from each other? Please help. Thanks!”
Answer from Mary Marymount
This is one of the most difficult situations that an adult child or other family member can be in – to live too far away to regularly their visit elder loved ones or easily provide help when they need it. So, here are 5 ways to stay close to your elder loved one when you live far away:
- There’s technology for it! Yes, there are lots of technologies available now to help you keep tabs on your elder loved ones if you live far away. Here is an article that describes the types of devices and what they are for: http://www.caring.com/checklists/useful-gadgets-for-elderly
- Do your research. Search on the internet what support systems your elderly loved ones have in their area – for example, many cities have some sort of area on aging that can be resources for you. They can refer reputable homecare agencies that you can hire to come in and provide home care or other types of services your parents may need.
- Check into other types of support. Do your elderly loved ones belong to a church or volunteer? If so, contact the church pastor and find out if they have a person that helps elders. What about their neighbors or friends? Or, is there anyone else they come into contact with on a daily basis like a neighbor or other family member? Find out their name and phone number so you can stay in touch with them to keep another pair of eyes on your elders so you know how they are really doing.
- Keep in touch with their physicians. This is another great way to get the real story on how your elder loved ones are doing. Physicians can give you information on their health and needs such as when they need walking devices such as walkers, canes, grab bars in their bathroom, etc.
- Move them closer to you. We saved the best one for last – and the one that would solve all your long distance problems – move them closer to you. And, how about moving them into your local assisted living community where all their activities of daily living would be taken care of, so you would no longer have to worry? Doesn’t that sound wonderful?
There are many ways to stay close to your elder loved ones when you live far away. You can set up technology to keep tabs on them, for example talk to them via Skype to see them on a regular basis without the cost of travel. You can search the internet to find aging or homecare resources; contact their neighbors or friends and have them visit regularly and report back to you; contact their physician to find out their health needs or, move them closer to you into an assisted living community. No matter how far you live from your elderly loved ones it is a challenge, but luckily there are ways to stay close to them.
If you have anything to add please share with us now.
Stay tuned for our May 27th blog on “Tips on Helping Your Elder Loved One Manage Their Medications (And, How to Get Them to Let Go)”
Did you know?
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