How can I help my elderly parents if I live far away?


Caring for your aging parents can be a little more difficult when you do not live nearby. Since moving closer to your parents may be difficult because of your job, and since many parents are not ready to surrender their freedom and move in with their children, steps must be taken to make sure that care is provided. 


Create an Information Packet 


Create a file where you can store important information regarding the care of your parents. Include things like contact information for their medical care providers, their financial information, and contact numbers for their neighbors. Search for charity and similar organizations in their local area that may be able to provide assistance in different ways.  Keep this information handy as well. Update the information regularly, and if you have siblings, make copies for distribution. 


Powers of Attorney 


If you are going to help care for your parents' finances or help make decisions about their healthcare, make sure that you have all the legal documents in order to take these steps. You do not want to be in the middle of an important situation and legally be unable to help.  


Check In Often 


Not only do your parents enjoy hearing from you, but a call in the afternoon a couple of times during the week can also be very useful in their care. These calls don't have to be seen as intrusive or overbearing but can be used to find out if your parents are eating, need assistance or are feeling well. Ask simple questions like what are you having for tea today? What was on the dinner menu last night? Did you ever go visit the chemist for a refill on your prescription? Simple things can go a long way in providing quality care without making your parents feel as if they are no longer independent. 


Go to Appointments With Your Parents 


Attending medical, financial and legal appointments with your parents will give you a broader perspective of what they need. Again, it may be necessary for you to have legal paperwork in place to attend some of these appointments. Make sure everything is in order before going so that you can legally ask questions and get the right answers. 

Share the Load 


If you have family members that can help, let them. Many people do not realize how much pressure caring for a parent long-distance can be on just one person. There are times that it can become very overwhelming. Sharing this chore with family members, or even paid for services on occasion, can be beneficial to the care provider as well as the parents.  

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