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Tips for caring from a distance

Helping parents who don’t live just round the corner is more complicated, but there are many things that we can do to ease their situation. Sally offers some tips gleaned from her experience of supporting a mother with physical needs and a father with mental challenges, both at the same time.

It is possible to divide up tasks irrespective of geography. Sally’s parents lived in the north of England, close to her brother, but Sally was in the south. It was actually her sister, who lived abroad, who dealt with all the parental paperwork.

You can pick up a phone or use a keyboard from anywhere. Taking away the stress of making appointments remotely with dentists, chiropodists, hospitals and even taxis is incredibly freeing for worried parents.

As parents accept more help, they’ll receive a growing number of visitors to the house. While close neighbours and family can have their own keys, it would be unrealistic and unwise to give out keys to all newcomers. However, a KeySafe somewhere outside the house, accessible with a key code, can give trusted parties access when they need it. It’s a valuable backup if the parents can’t come to the door. In Sally’s father’s case he was suspicious of all visitors, and without the keysafe many of his support network wouldn’t have been invited through the door.

A good, reliable and trusted agency that provides help at home can be amazingly valuable. Even though you’re far away, it’s worth finding one that’s been recommended, visiting them and investing the time to build a relationship.

It’s hard to do sometimes, especially if you feel guilty about being far away, but in a difficult situation, it makes sense to ask other people for help. Social services may operate on a limited budget, but may still have some services to offer as well as advice. Closer family members, old friends and neighbours probably won’t mind being asked to drop a meal round, do some shopping or just provide a little company.

While you can call in big firms for major tasks, it’s often the little ones that remain undone. A trusted odd-jobber can prove invaluable when family members can’t help.

Interestingly Sally argues that you have to take each stage as it comes – you can’t plan ahead. She and her family would never have imagined at the outset that their parents could have remained in their home for as long as they did, but as challenges arose they were dealt with, one by one.

Read more about Sally and her family’s experiences caring for their parents here.

Have you discovered valuable ways and means to help support your parents from a distance? Let us know with a comment below.

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