Do you struggle looking after your elderly parents from a distance?

Living over 100 miles away from your ageing family is now, it appears, the norm these days. Looking after elderly parents is difficult enough, but when you don’t live close to them, such as being able to pop in whilst passing, it can create all sorts of logistical issues. And let's not forget the guilt, that you aren’t close enough to give them the care and attention that they need. According to research from BUPA this has become a common problem for a lot of adults aged over 35 who are likely to live 100 miles, or a 2 hour drive from their elderly parents. And when it comes to those who live in London, people in London often have the furthest drive, living an average of 205 miles away. Recognising that your parents might be suffering from ill health, or need extra help within their home, can often be noticed during the festive period when you will have made the journey to visit them. In fact (according to the research) for 15% of adults the festive period is one of the few times that they will visit their parents and older relatives and this often acts as a swift wake-up call when they see their parents’ health deteriorate. When elderly parents start needing help and care at home it suddenly poses problems for the family. Do you have elderly parents who live far away? Here are some tips for caring for your elderly parents from a distance:

  • Try to keep your parent in the loop with all conversations. Don’t make them feel like they are being discussed rather than being a part of the conversation.

  • Ensure that all the family become involved in the decision-making. Technology can help make that easier, perhaps organise a Skype call with your relatives so that you can all discuss the situation together.

  • Research the local area around a care home and think about amenities such as shops and leisure facilities, as well as affordable overnight accommodation nearby in case you need to visit. Even if you do know it well, understanding it from the point of view of care can be entirely different to how you know it.

  • If it’s difficult to visit a care home face to face, always try and ensure you speak to the care home manager and care staff over the phone in order to get an understanding of how the care home works and whether it suits your relative or not.

  • Make time for yourself; don’t try and stretch yourself to the limit with endless long distance car journeys – remember to stay practical and work out what’s possible to manage from a long distance and when you might want or need to travel to visit.

  • If you’re considering a care home for your elderly relative, then you need to arrange a visit with your relative as well if possible. After all, you wouldn’t choose a new house without seeing it for yourself.

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