Living in the same city as your family members can be a huge advantage in the provision and monitoring of care and support, especially as the living arrangements of people as they age likely undergo some change such as the loss of a spouse or age-related frailty. Many families however live in geographically dispersed situations necessitating alternative approaches to communicating and maintaining the familial relationship. Indeed, as more of the elderly live on their own, challenges can be compounded. So what do you do when your elderly parents live far away?
Careseekers recommends undertaking the following to ensure that long distance care giving can be as effective as possible.
- Collect, store and share information
When your elderly parents live far away, you need to have a solid information sharing process in place between family members so that issues such as declining health are not overlooked. Ensure all information on the medical needs of family members are captured; all advance directives regarding medical treatments and necessary documentation are available; and, include regular updates as the situation changes over time.
- Use technology
Technology becomes a critical component to overcoming challenges in managing when your elderly parents live far away. Use webinars, conference calls, Facebook pages, amongst others, to monitor and maintain communication between family members. You can also go one step further and use technology can to find care workers to provide additional support on-the-ground.
- Explore professional services
Speak to social workers, and other community organisations in the local area to find out what support services might be available to your family (for example meals on wheels, home library services). Consider organising home services for shopping, home maintenance, cooking, cleaning and other household chores.
- Prepare for unplanned travel
Allow for the fact that you parents may still be mobile and like to get out and about. Ensure that there is a process in place for notifying family members when your parents go away – ensure at the minimum you capture an address and phone number of where they are going. The same would apply in the event they may go to hospital for a brief stay.
- Organise volunteers
Talk to friends and people who your parents may know and trust who live nearby to support with the above, and any emotional support when you can’t physically be there.
The original version of this article appeared on careseekers.com.au. Reproduced with permission.
Photo credit: women age in the free air health by silviarita