Lately, we’ve been really focusing on the sandwich generation. Thesandwich generation is the people who support the generations on either side of them- their aging parents and their growing children. They are often stretched in two directions, caring for both sides. It can be even more complicated if the family is spread apart. We have helped many families where the adult children are trying to support their aging parents from a different state or even a different country. We have worked with these families to be their “boots on the ground,” but it can be hard to tell when it is time to get more help from miles away.
Below we put together 5 manageable tips to help you care for your aging parents from miles away.
1- Establish a communication pattern. This may sound simple, but if you are concerned about your loved ones, having a standard weekly (or even daily) check-in time may give you peace of mind.
2- Identify someone close by in case of an emergency. Ask for the name and number of someone who is physically close to your loved one(s) and available if needed. This could be a neighbor, someone in the community, or even a local volunteer.
3- Ask questions. When you check in with your parents, ask them specific questions about their day/routine. We know this seems simple, but a general “did you have a good day?” will not indicate if your aging loved one is experiencing cognitive loss. Rather, try, “What did you have for lunch today?”, “Did it rain there this afternoon?” or “Have you read/watched any good books/shows lately?”
4- If you can, talk to both parents.
If you are fortunate enough to be able to, try to get both parents on the phone at the same time… then ask them questions; “Mom, how are you sleeping?”, “Dad, how are you eating?” They naturally will hold each other accountable… Your mom may be inclined to say she’s sleeping fine, but if she is complaining about her sleep at home, your dad will likely let you know. Facetime or a video call is a bonus!