How to care for an elderly parent or family member from afar

Caring for an elderly parent or loved one can be a challenge under even the best of circumstances, especially if you live far away.

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, it’s been even more of a challenge for many families to maintain proper distance from loved ones who may be at higher risk while also providing care.

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However, there are some ways to bridge the gap, with the help of planning and technology. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Research care options

Coming up with a care plan that is right for you and your loved one can help you both feel more prepared. For U.S. News & World Report, financial journalist Kimberly Lankford notes that the earlier this conversation happens, the better.

Even before your parent needs a care plan, it can help to talk through options so they feel like they have some control.

Lankford suggests that if you’re visiting your parent, take time to visit senior care facilities in their area. Even as many are closed due to the public amid the pandemic, many are offering virtual tours and have information available online.

Consider people who can help

If you live far away from your elderly parents, it’s important to build a network of people who can step in and help if you’re unable to be there for something.

Your on-the-ground support network may include neighbors and friends in the area, but there are also professionals who can help. A geriatric care manager may be able to help. These professionals are able to help with things like going to appointments, picking up prescriptions and keeping out of town family members in the loop.

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Stay in touch with technology 

Despite physical distancing right now or just living far apart, there are still plenty of ways to stay connected using technology. Finding ways to maintain social connections is important for all of us right now — especially seniors who can be more prone to feeling lonely.

Calling an elderly loved one just to say “hi” can go a long way to stave off loneliness.

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You can also pick a book or movie to both read or watch, then schedule a time to talk about it on the phone or via video chat. It’s a small way to feel connected to the people in our lives right now, even if you’re unable to gather in person.