The well-being of elderly family members back home can be a major concern for expat families. Yes, evolving digital tools can bridge the physical gap, but open discussions and careful planning are always advisable.
When you’re worlds apart
As a species, we’re living longer, and due to a globalised world, families are living further and further apart. For expats living in another country, perhaps even another continent, the thought of ‘leaving’ ageing parents back home can cause strong emotions. Some of us might feel guilty about living so far away. Others might be constantly anxious about their parents’ health and safety. There might also be complex family dynamics in play. For example, a sibling might resent having to do the heavy lifting while you, the expat, get to live ‘the high life’ overseas.
On the same page
Thanks to digital technologies it’s easier than ever to stay in touch, and the Senior Care industry is creating groundbreaking products that expats and their elderly parents can utilise. But it’s also important to discuss practical logistics and other matters with your parent(s). Make sure you involve other family members that should be central to these discussions, so everyone is on the same page. What will your absence change? What arrangements need to be made? Who, in the event of an emergency, can be called (relatives, family doctor, neighbours, police, etc)? What apps, devices, services and resources would be beneficial to ensuring their safety, health and well-being?
Medical and legal guidance
If you are already an expat and have decided to extend your time abroad, it’s not too late to have these conversations. Ask your parent(s) to talk directly to the family doctor about their present and future needs. Are there legal matters that should be addressed? If so, make sure these are resolved sooner rather than later.
Touchy subject… but for who?
Only you can judge how to broach this subject. Some parents might bristle at the thought of discussing their old age. Some might try to dismiss matters. Some may have already been making arrangements. In fact, you might be the one who feels uncomfortable having a conversation where your parents’ mortality looms in the background. But it’s always going to be better that you have these frank discussions now, and last but not least, remember that parents will rarely want their children to stop living their life.
This article was originally published for the thousands of expat partners that Global Connection supports around the globe. It is reproduced here in its original form.