Aging Parents: Six Tips for Long-Distance Caregiving

Aging Parents: Six Tips for Long-Distance Caregiving


If you are a baby boomer or a Gen Xer, it’s likely that you are concerned about the health and well-being of your aging parents. This concern can be compounded if you live far away from your parents and feel guilty or worried that you’re not able to help them.

If you are one of the millions of Americans who provide long-distance care for a family member, here are six tips that can help you reduce stress while ensuring quality care for your parents.

1. Keep a care notebook/organizer.

This serves as a central hub for all important information related to your parent’s care. You can use a care organizer template available from various sources to gather information specific to your parent(s), including a medications list and schedule, financial planning, legal documents, and a home safety checklist, among others.

2. Know your parent’s friends.

It’s crucial to know your parent’s friends and exchange phone numbers with their neighbors and close friends. Ask them to call you if they are concerned about your parent’s well-being in any way. It’s important to emphasize that it’s okay to call any time of day or night

3. Know your parent’s doctors.

It’s essential to know your parent’s doctors and ask them to email a summary of each office visit to you. This keeps you informed of any changes in medication, health issues, etc. Try to plan a visit that coincides with your parent’s next doctor’s appointment to put a face to a name when you call on your parent’s behalf. It also lets the doctor and staff know that your parent has family taking an interest in their medical care

4. Identify your parent’s needs.

You should also identify your parent’s needs by observing their appearance and home. Any red flags, such as unwashed dishes or unopened bills, may indicate that your parent needs assistance.

5. Recruit help.

You can talk to your parent about hiring a helper to shop, clean, cook, do laundry, or any other tasks that will make their life easier. Emphasize that bringing in help will keep them independent longer. If family and friends are nearby and willing to help, and the needs are minimal, this may be the route to take. Or you may opt to bring in professionals to assist with daily health care, personal care, or household chores

6. Share decision-making.

Finally, it’s important to share decision-making with your parent. Include them in discussions about their needs, and ask for their opinion instead of telling them what to do.

Navigating care for an aging parent from a distance can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be. Taking proactive steps, keeping the lines of communication open, and using available resources will help you feel more confident that your loved one is safe and well.