It can be a stressful experience for any adult child to see their parents getting older and losing some of their abilities. That experience is compounded when the adult child lives long distance and can’t attend to their parents needs on a moment’s notice. Here are a few tips to help make the experience easier for everyone.
Make Sure the House is Evaluated and Safe.
If your parent is still living on their own at home, it can be helpful to make sure their home is as safe as possible. Having a list of emergency phone numbers by each phone in the home will ensure they’re able to reach the right people for any situation.
Happier At Home can perform a home safety evaluation to check for proper durable medical equipment and accommodations, for tripping hazards, such as electrical cords, area rugs, and general clutter around the house. An aging parent may have once been able to deftly avoid tripping over a cord or catch their balance if their foot caught on a rug may not have the same reflexes, which could lead to a serious fall. If a home security system or panic button are options financially, then they should be utilized. It may be best to add a ‘No Soliciting’ sign to the door to deter any potential door to door scams.
Get Permission to Discuss Health Care
It’s important to receive written permission under the HIPAA privacy rule to discuss your parents' care. Once received, it’s important that everyone is on the same page. Stay in contact with your loved one’s health care team to be sure you have a full understanding of any illnesses long or short-term that they may have. Coordinating a visit to your parents that coincides with a doctor’s appointment will allow you to meet their health care team in person and ask more follow up questions.
Help Manage Day to Day Finances
Being added to your parents' checking or savings accounts could allow you to help with online bill paying from afar. It can also determine if finances are being drained or if there is fraudulent activity occurring. Be sure you have contact information for your parent’s attorney, financial planner, insurance agents, tax advisor and anyone else that might have a financial interest.
Create an Emergency Plan
If your parent lives in an area known for hurricanes, earthquakes or blizzards be sure they know what to do in an emergency. It’s also a great idea to make a first aid kit. If you haven’t already, another suggestion is to start an emergency travel fund so that you can be by your parent’s side quickly during a health emergency.
Reach Out to Other Family Members and Make a Plan
If you do have siblings or another relative that live in the same area as your parents, that’s great news. But as your parents age it’s important that the responsibility of helping out does not fall too heavily on just one person. Dividing up responsibilities among key family members and close family friends is the best way to ensure no one gets overwhelmed.
Get Some Help
If your parents need non-medical assistance such as transportation, meal-planning, or shopping consider reaching out to Happier At Home to learn more about the services we offer. Our Care Advocacy is a great service for adult children out of town – we can help organize and track doctor’s appointments, prescription refills, home services like physical therapy or installing durable medical equipment, and more. Our services can make sure your loved ones are safe and that there is someone checking in on them and reporting back.
Stay in Touch
Regular phone calls, letters, and emails will help keep your parents’ spirits up. When you come into town, be sure to help complete caregiver tasks like visiting the doctor and organizing the house, but also take time to visit. Going to a movie, playing cards, or visiting with grandchildren will be invaluable time spent.
With these tips, long distance caregiving will hopefully seem a little less stressful.