Watching your parent age and become a senior can be scary, and even more so when you live far away and don't have the ability to help them with daily tasks and activities. Your parent may be experiencing decreased mobility, may be lonely and isolated, or may need help with tasks around the house and errands. Other than visiting more often, there are concrete and practical things you can do to help out, no matter how far away you are. Here are four ideas for helping your aging parent from far away:
Sign Them Up for an Errand-Running Service
Several companies now offer errand-running services, with some specifically focused on seniors. You can pay for this service for your parent as a gift, sign them up, and then walk them through the process of requesting errands and help with other tasks. These services make seniors' lives easier by letting them call, text, or use a mobile app to request help with errands such as picking up their prescriptions, shopping for their groceries, or giving them a ride to their next doctor appointment.
An errand-running service is a great time saver for anyone, but it can really enhance your parent's quality of life if they're no longer able to drive or if they have limited mobility. Contact companies like Sanity Saving Errand Tacklers to learn more about the services errand-running services can provide.
Find a Caregiver in Their Town
If you lived nearby, you would most likely visit your parent often and help with things like meal preparation and medication management. Since this isn't an option, it's a good idea to help your parent find a trusted and reliable caregiver when they need additional help. This could be a sibling or other relative, but it's important to keep in mind that your family members all have their own families, jobs, and responsibilities to attend to and may not have enough availability.
A better option may be to hire a local in-home health aide to stop by each day, or at least a couple of times per week. This service is often covered by health insurance and can provide medical, home, personal care, and lifestyle help while still allowing your parent to stay in their own home.
Encourage Them to Be Social
Loneliness and isolation are epidemic among the elderly, and it's important to watch for signs that your parent is succumbing to this unhealthy pattern. Scheduling frequent phone calls is one way to ensure your parent has someone to talk to and doesn't feel lonely. It's also a good idea to encourage them to remain social by asking about old friends you haven't heard them mention in a while and perhaps by encouraging them to join a social club for other seniors.
Setting them up with a Facebook profile and showing them how to use it will help them stay connected with far-flung friends and family, while letting them show off photos of their grandchildren or hobbies.
Help Them Update and Maintain Their Home
The next time you visit, keep an eye out for updates and maintenance that may be needed around their home. Grab bars in the shower, brighter lighting, and perhaps a wheelchair ramp are all simple modifications that may be helpful as your parent gets older. Offer to help with these tasks, as well as routine maintenance like cleaning the gutters, whenever you are in town, since oftentimes aging parents may need the help but be unlikely to explicitly ask for it.
Just because you live far away doesn't mean you can't help make your aging parent's life more convenient, safe, and fulfilling. Following these tips will make your parent's life easier while also showing them how much you care.