Do you have an aging parent who lives in another city or country?
Are you finding that the physical distance puts a strain on your relationship at times? Do you ever feel guilty and wish you could do more for your parent?
The reality is that you may live far away, but there are some simple steps that you can take to ensure that your parent still feels like a priority in your life even if they live far away.
Read about the ABC’s of supporting a parent who lives far away.
1. Ask, Acknowledge, Act
a) Ask. When is the last time you asked your senior parent how they really are and then listened without distractions? Practice the art of ‘asking and listening to understand, not just to respond.”
Ask: “Mom/dad, how are you really doing living on your own? I would love to know so I can support you better.”
*Note: It may take time for your parent to open up if they are worried that you are going to take over or force them to change. Rebuilding trust and respect takes time if it’s been broken.
b) Acknowledge. Once your parent shares how they feel, acknowledge their feelings and their situation.
Acknowledge: “Mom/dad, thank you for sharing this with me. I appreciate you being honest. It must be challenging that….It makes sense that….”
*Note: It’s not up to you to FIX the situation. Simply affirming their feelings will mean a lot to them.
c) Act. Is your parent capable to live on their on? Do they need some home support? Lawn care? A friendly visitor? A Personal Trainer?
Even though you live far away, you have the internet at your fingertips. It’s easier than ever to find trusted support services for your senior parent.
Act: Make a list of what support your senior parent needs and move the priorities into your calendar so you can start to take action now.
Note: Does your parent need to strengthen their body in order to live at home alone? Google “In-Home Personal Trainer for Seniors” to find a qualified professional who is experienced with seniors.
Is it time for them to move into a retirement residence? Seek out a Senior Living Advisor who can save you precious time by suggesting the best 3 living options based on your budget, location and needs.
2. Book Regular Phone Calls
Another way to keep in touch is to have a weekly phone call scheduled with your parent. Life gets busy. You are probably balancing work, activities, kids, running a household and planning for your future.
Your senior parent is probably not as busy as you are. They may feel forgotten. They may remind you that they never hear from you.
Instead of feeling guilty and rushed, schedule a weekly call to touch base with your parent.
Note: What do we talk about? Ask them about who they’ve seen this week, what put a smile on their face, what was challenging, and what they are looking forward to next week. Keeping the conversation focused on the positive and the future can help lift their spirits.
3. Communicate with your Sibling/ Primary Caregiver
If you have a sibling who is the main caregiver, put them on your radar.
Are they getting burned out from caring for your parent? Do they feel resentful that you are never around to help? Could they use a listening ear while they vent?
As your parents age and are more dependent, it can be helpful to know who is playing what role.
Note: Ask yourselves: Out of all of your siblings, who would be the best POA? Who’s the best researcher for home support services? Who does your parent confide in the most?
When you lay out all the needs your parent has, it can then be easier to determine who is best suited to that role. Just because you live out of town doesn’t mean you can’t be as involved.
As your parent continues to age in a different city than where you reside, focus on the ABC’s of support in order to maintain a close relationship and support the parent whom you love.
Are you looking for more ways to help your parent live a more fulfilled life?