When we’re young, it’s our parents’ job to look after us.They keep us safe, give us their love, make sure we are well fed, have what we need, and more.
Even when we’re adults, our moms and dads never stop worrying about us and trying to help. It’s an occupational hazard of the job!
Then, at a certain stage in life the pendulum swings, and the adult children take on more of the role of the parents. They want to know what their mom and dad are doing, if they are okay and how their needs are being met.
It is even more of a challenge when your elderly parents live out of state. It’s not as if you can head over at any time of the day or night should something unforeseen happen.
I know…I have lived this scenario for the last 12 years, although my folks were pretty independent until a few years ago. That’s when it became more stressful for me as the adult child who lived 1,100 miles away. All of the telephone and Skype conversations don’t make up for the fact that you’re not there, in the flesh, to help take care of the folks and make sure their needs are met.
I’m going to use the term ‘parents’ and ‘folks’ in this post, although you may have only one parent that is still with you. My comments apply in either situation.
But, like any other of life’s challenges, you formulate a plan to meet the obstacles head on. Here are some common sense tips for you.
Tips – When Your
Elderly Parents Live Out of State
Find A ‘Spy’ In The Camp
If your folks simply won’t acknowledge that their home is becoming too much for them to handle, it might be time to enlist the help of a neighbor to keep an eye on them. Conversely, your parents might have no issues reaching out to the people who live around them for assistance.
My parents had a wonderful circle of neighbors who helped them with outdoor maintenance, some home maintenance and even errands when needed. They were a very special group of people!
Either way, having some local eyes, ears, hands and feet nearby can be a real lifesaver, particularly if an emergency occurs.
Let Them Live Their Life
Even though you worry about them, pushing your opinions and preferences on them will not help. For example, what did you do as a child when you felt suffocated? For many of us, the answer is we rebelled because we were young, headstrong and thought we knew best. This should sound familiar as, yes, parents can be like this too.
By all means call and ask how they are and if they need anything, but don’t push an agenda. My folks rejected any thoughts of moving from their home, considering an independent type community, for about five years. We (my brother, sister and I) would occasionally broach the subject but never pushed them.
It wasn’t until December, 2017 when we took a more proactive approach because we saw their ability to live on their own declining. And, they agreed! I made several trips up north to help with the selection of the community, the listing and sale of their home, and then the actual move.
Do Your Homework
Finally, your parents have agreed to go into an independent or assisted living type of community. It’s a good moment because it gives you peace of mind, yet it doesn’t mean the worrying is over.
On the front end, you need to research thoroughly before selecting a location. It is a huge decision, and if your parents are still of sound mind and relatively mobile, they certainly want to be involved in the decision making process.
If you’re in a distant location, the internet is the magic that will allow you to check reviews of potential communities, make phone calls to obtain answers to questions about the facility, etc. There is so much you can do and accomplish without being physically present.
When our family went through this process, we observed the residents and staff carefully when first visiting, and had some light conversation with residents in the lobby and hallways, to gauge the atmosphere. You can pick up quite a bit from watching, observing and seeing how the staff and residents interact with each other.
Don’t Trust the New Home Implicitly
After the move has taken place and your parents have settled in, check in with them often. I talk to my mom every day, and have done that for several years. It’s a great way to stay close when you can’t be there in person. But if that’s too much talk time for you, consider at least once or twice a week. Those calls mean a lot to the folks. And as a daughter, they mean a lot to me, too.
Always listen to your parents and follow up on any concerns about the living environment and/or the staff. Be vigilant.
Unfortunately, certain establishments can be a horrible place for the elderly. Just ask Stewart J Guss about the cases he has seen over the years.
It is amazing how one visit can light up a parent’s life. Not only do they want to see you, but they can’t wait to spend time with the grand kids, too.
If the distance is great, it requires some forethought and planning, but the rewards are also great. Not only can you help with things like running errands, grocery shopping, doctor appointments, etc., it gives you that face-to-face time that isn’t possible through a phone call. My visits with the folks have always been treasured times, particularly now that my dad has passed and it is my mom who I am spending time with.
Depending on where they live, try and visit two to three times a year. Make it a priority, because you just don’t know what tomorrow may bring.