You may be wondering how you can possibly help your elderly parent who requires care on the opposite side of the country. While it may be difficult for you to move nearer or make often trips to assist your parent in person, there are many ways you can assist from the comfort of your home.
Research Medical Conditions
The first step to helping your elderly parent is to research any medical conditions they may be facing. Learning about all illnesses, their course, and possible treatments can help you to understand the day-to-day concerns, possible decisions, and how to plan for the future. This can also help you understand what your parent is currently going through.
Keep in Touch with Care Providers
If your parent is comfortable with allowing their doctors to discuss medical concerns with you, have them sign a release allowing you to make calls about their health. This will help you keep on top of any changes. If possible, have copies of medical records and paperwork sent to you to be kept in files and reviewed when health issues arise.
Keep notes and paperwork on your parent’s medical and financial issues and concerns. This should include all contacts, insurance information, account numbers, and other legal information. It is important that this information be kept in an orderly fashion to be easily reviewed or referred to in an emergency.
Maximize Time during Visits
When a visit is possible, be sure to maximize the use of the time available. This can be done by:
- Scheduling necessary doctor and lawyer appointments
- Keeping an eye out for signs of worsening conditions or abuse
- Setting aside quality time to spend together
- Finding out what your loved one needs from you during the visit
Strengths and Limitations
In order to help your parent, you should be aware of the possible strengths you have to offer along with the limitations which hold you back.
If you work in the medical field, you can easily help your family to understand the current medical situation of your parent. With the release of information approved by your parent, you can gain information from medical staff and interpret the situation to family and friends.
If you work or excel in finance, you may take on the financial aspects of your parent’s life. This can include managing their accounts, paying their bills, keeping track of bank statements, and caring for insurance concerns.
Tending to someone else’s finances can be time consuming and should not be taken lightly. This is a very important aspect of your parent’s life and should only be taken on by someone with the available time and expertise.
If you are handy around the house and good at fixing things, you may have your parent make a list of things that require your expertise. The list can be kept until your next visit so that you may tend to them.
For any family member attempting to provide support from afar, it is important to recognize how often you can travel to visit your elderly parent. Financial and emotional concerns should be taken into consideration when this limitation decision is made.
Plan for Emergencies
In the event of an emergency, you may need to travel to your parent on short or no notice. You should be sure to set aside money and time, in the form of vacation days or Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) days, in case you need to make an unexpected trip.
Despite being far away from your elderly parent, you can still assist in providing care in many ways.