There’s little doubt that caring for your aging parents, especially from afar, can be very difficult. It doesn’t matter if you’re 20 minutes away or you’re two hours away. Having a parent any distance from you is difficult, and you may feel stressed and even guilty about it.
Since you can’t be there all the time, you may wonder what you can do to care for your loved ones. Thankfully, you’ve got several options and it’s best to evaluate all of them.
Really Examine What You Can Do
As much as you might love caring for your aging parents, odds are you may not be able to meet their every need. It’s important to take that to heart—no one can do it all.
So what can you do? The best thing is to evaluate your strengths and focus on those. If you’re good with money, for example, you can offer to help your loved one manage their finances and pay their bills. If you’ve got experience in legal matters, you can take care of any wills and trusts your parents have set up and make sure all necessary paperwork is filed. If you’re handy, you can fix and replace things around the house to make your loved one more comfortable.
Once you’ve identified what your strengths are, you can make a plan to care for your loved ones that includes ways to fill in the gaps. You can offer a lot of help to your parents, but no one is Superman, so you shouldn’t try to do it all yourself.
Look Into Living Arrangements
An important part of caring for your aging parents is finding ways to make them comfortable with their living arrangements. Sometimes that means having them move in with you or another family member. Sometimes that means making frequent trips to their home to help them. Sometimes it means moving them out of their home altogether and into an assisting living facility.
There’s nothing wrong with not being able to take of your parents in your home, and there’s nothing wrong with seeking care for them if they can’t live on their own. Senior living communities and assisted living communities offer a variety of daily activities, a built-in social network, and daily access to needed medical care. If dealing with finances is one of your strengths, you can figure out the assisted living costs associated with your parents’ move and you can help them manage their money.
These days, it’s never been easier for families to stay connected with one another or to stay connected for everyday needs. If you need medical help, for example, you make a teleconference appointment. If you need to order something, you simply go to a website, order it, and it arrives in a few days.
If you live a few hours away from your parents, you can call them on a cell phone or set up a video call on one of several apps. You can also help your parents stay connected to the outside world for things they need. For example, if they’re having problems with their heating and air conditioning system, you can help them schedule an appointment for a technician to come and fix the problem. If they need to get to the doctor, you can help schedule appointments and even walk them through telemedicine appointments.
Spend Time With Them
One of the most important things you can do while caring for your aging parents is to spend time with them. Even if your parents live on their own and can do things for themselves, one thing they probably miss is contact from their loved ones.
Spending time with your parents doesn’t always mean cooking or cleaning all the time either. Caring for your aging parents also means doing things they enjoy doing. That might mean a simple breakfast date or a shopping trip, or a trip to the movies.
Make an Emergency Plan
There’s an old saying that says failure to plan means planning to fail, and that’s especially true when it comes to planning for emergencies. If your loved ones have an emergency situation, and no one is nearby to help them, you want to make sure that they’re going to be taken care of.
So what can you do? The answer is simple, make an emergency plan. If you don’t live nearby, set up a support system of folks who can offer aid in times of need. You can keep track of all their contact information so that you can connect with any one of them at a moment’s notice. You may also consider getting your parents a life alert button so they can contact emergency services if there’s a fall or another type of accident.
Help Them With Everything Medical
As you go about caring for your aging parents, a big part of the care you provide is likely going to concern medical issues. That includes scheduling appointments, helping them keep appointments, and helping them manage their medications. If your parents have questions about their medical insurance, you can go with them to a medical insurance consulting meeting with an agent to make sure they’re properly insured. If they have questions for their doctor about medical malpractice, for example, you can be there with them to alleviate any concerns they have. If they approach you with concerns about medical malpractice, ensure that you take them seriously.
You may not be a doctor, but there are many things you can do to help. If your parents are unable to drive, they’ll be very thankful if you’re able to take them to different appointments.
Offer Protection From Scams
Believe it or not, senior abuse via financial scams is a big issue. Scammers are constantly changing tactics and using various means to prey on the unsuspecting. Another important part of caring for your aging parents is helping to protect them from scams.
One way to protect them from scams is to warn them. Many of today’s scams are done online or over the phone, especially when scammers attempt to impersonate people in authority. The scammers attempt to induce fear by tricking them, all with the intention of trying to get their personal information.
Some of the most common scams are:
- Internet and tech scams
- Charity scams
- Social Security and IRS scams
- Lottery scams
You should also advise your parents to exercise caution with their finances. You don’t want your loved ones shouldn’t be afraid to buy anything ever again, but they need to understand the dangers that are out there. They can take simple steps to avoid scams like setting spending limits on credit cards, blocking numbers they don’t recognize on their phones, and checking with their bank to see what else they can do to protect themselves.
Help Make Them More Secure
Your parents love you and helped care for you as you were growing up. As you’re caring for your aging parents when they get older, one of the best ways you can help them is to make their home more secure. After all, it’s easy to worry about them especially if you don’t live nearby.
One of the best ways you can help protect them is to have a home security system installed. A security surveillance system installation can be just what your parents need if your parents have health issues, they live in a highly trafficked area, or they’re having memory loss issues.
Security systems are more than just rudimentary burglary alarms. Today’s systems offer smart monitoring, home automation, as well as round-the-clock fire and burglar protection. Today’s cyber-security systems can be personalized to watch every part of a home, from the backyard to the front doors, to even the driveway.
One of the best things about security systems is that there are many options on the table, particularly with add-ons. Indoor and outdoor cameras can be installed to watch every part of the house, constant monitoring can alert emergency services in an instant, and motion sensors can even be installed within a home.
Modify Their Home
It’s estimated that the average homeowner plans to spend more than $10,000 on home renovations. You don’t have to spend that much to help your parents at home, but, as previously mentioned, one of the most important parts of caring for an aging loved one is making sure they’re comfortable at home. Aside from cleaning, cooking, or some basic forms of care, there are many simple things you can do to help your folks maintain their independence and stay safe.
Keep Them Mobile
Caring for your aging parents means modifying their home so they can move around. This is especially important if they have mobility issues. If your parents have slippery flooring in their home or uneven surfaces in some of their rooms, take steps to fix those issues. You can have non-slip flooring installed in their home to make it easier to move around. You can also look into having cracks filled in in the driveway if your parents still drive. By eliminating any and all risks, you’ll keep your parents a lot safer.
Keeping them mobile (and comfortable) also means making sure they’ve got comfortable footwear. If they need special orthopedic shoes, for example, make an appointment for them with a podiatrist so that they can walk around without pain.
Modify The Kitchen
If you’re tasked with caring for your aging parents, you might also want to help them make things more accessible, especially in the kitchen. Improving the functionally of their kitchen is actually quite simple. You can install drawers and easy-to-reach shelves that will help your parents reach the essential items they need. Make sure their pantry is stocked with enough food as well. During the cold of winter, your loved ones will be thankful there’s food in the house, especially if it’s too risky to travel to the store.
Check Windows And Doors
You can help your parents stay comfortable and safe at home by having windows and doors checked. If, for example, they have a front door that’s tricky to open even with the right key, local locksmith companies can come and change the locks and issue new keys. For windows, make sure they’re easy enough to open. Your parents will be thankful for this, especially during the warmer days of summer.
Know Your Limits
Caring for your aging parents is a very noble thing to do and is a good way to repay your parents for all the care they provided to you growing up. By an important part of that care is knowing your limits. As much as you might want to do everything for them, the simple fact is that you might not be able to. One of the best things you can do in that situation is to hire a caregiver.
Caregivers can offer plenty of benefits to your loved ones including peace of mind. It doesn’t matter if your parents need a little bit of help or round-the-clock care, a caregiver has the professional experience and know-how to help make your parents comfortable. A caregiver can also your parents maintain their independence, offering help so that they can continue to do as many everyday activities for themselves as they can.
Above all, a caregiver can offer a level of personal care that you might not be able to, especially when it comes to medical things. A caregiver can provide preventative care, screenings, and even immunizations. If your parents deal with chronic pain, caregivers can offer them aid to deal with their pain. Ultimately, caregivers can adapt to the needs of your parents and help take a lot of stress off of you and your family’s shoulders.
There’s no doubt that caring for your aging parents can be a challenge, and there may be some things you’re just not able to do. But by making them as comfortable as possible, modifying their home to keep them safe, and enlisting the expertise of a caregiver, you’ll be able to make sure your parents are well cared for and able to continue living on their own.