Hello. Long Distance.
Today, I present you with a guest blog.
While the emphasis is on the elderly, and while it acknowledges dementia/Alzheimer’s, I find the article useful – and I take it rather personally.
Many of my Facebook friends, and friends on myalzteam.com – and my friends and acquaintances right here in our small city of Maple Ridge BC – also face and have faced this very problem.
Sometimes the distance is manageable, but not too often; sometimes it involves hours of driving. Occasionally is has been from province to province – or state to state as in the case of my friends in the US.
Sometimes the care giver (and family) move to the parents’ city or town to continue the care and love. At least one such case popped up in our support group.
So, give it a read.
Maybe you, too, have a story to tell, a suggestion to add…
Helping Your Older Parents When You’re Far Away
When you were a child, your parents were there for you. They gave you a place to live, put food on the table, and helped you grow up. That’s why you want to return the favor when your parents get old enough to need some help.
But what happens if you live far away? It’s not like you can take care of their every need, but there certainly are things you can do to help. Before getting into that, you need to have a better idea of what problems may be on the horizon.
Problems Faced By Elderly Parents
The biggest problem is clearly the deterioration of physical and mental health. As the body ages, it starts to develop problems like arthritis and cancer. But it also impacts the mind, leading some people to have issues with dementia or Alzheimer’s. While genetics plays a part, so do lifestyles. That means these can hurt almost anyone as they get older.
One little-discussed problem facing elderly parents is that they’re facing important decisions towards the final years of their life. They need to worry about where to live, how to financially survive in retirement, and what to do when friends and loved ones pass away. In other words, anyone can have stress over these decisions, but facing them as a senior makes them harder to handle.
Why Downsizing Can Help
With all these problems, what can you do to help your parents when you live far away? One of the first things you should think about is downsizing. This is when your parents sell their old, big house and move into a smaller home.
Redfin has an excellent guide to downsizing for seniors listing five options for a new home:
1. Buying a smaller home.
2. Renting a smaller home.
3. Moving in with a loved one.
4. Moving into a retirement community.
5. Entering an assisted living community.
But why move somewhere smaller? There are several reasons why this is usually a good move for elderly parents.
● Money is in short supply in a retirement, so moving to where costs are lower can really make sense.
● A smaller home needs less care and maintenance. That means your parents won’t have to work as hard.
● If mobility becomes an issue, moving from a multi-story home to one that only has a single floor can be safer.
While it’s harder to help with downsizing from afar, you can use Redfin to help find the right space for your parents. Thanks to the internet, you can find a home, hire inspectors, and even get a moving company while living far away.
Providing Assistance From A Distance
Besides downsizing, there are other ways you can still help your elderly parents despite not living near them.
First, follow Bankrate.com’s advice and look into your parent’s finances and legal documents. Power of attorney documents are needed in case of emergency, but you also want to make sure bank accounts and investments are done properly. You can always have your parents send you any needed documents by mail or email.
Schedule regular meetings to understand what’s going on in your parents’ lives. It’s harder to stay informed when you live far away, so make regular times to speak over the phone or internet. This can also help all of you feel connected.
You can also hire a professional caregiver for your parents. If you cannot be there to help regularly, you can send a trained professional to help in your place.
You Can Help From Afar
It’s not always easy trying to take care of your elderly parents from a distance. However, there are definitely things you can do when problems arise. Talk to your parents about downsizing, stay in contact with them, and look into a professional caregiver. Your parents took care of you, and now you can take care of them.
Marie Villeza is passionate about connecting seniors with the resources they need to live happy, healthy lives. She developed ElderImpact.org to provide seniors and their caregivers with resources and advice.
Image by Pixabay goo.gl/Udmcc4
*564,000 Canadians with dementia – ALZ Soc Canada
To support the fight against dementia / Alzheimer’s, a percentage of all sales of my book is dedicated to the Alzheimer’s Society in British Columbia, where the University of British Columbia is actively researching treatments and cures.