Long distance care for ageing parents

When you live in another country, it’s easy to feel anxious about the health and well-being of an ageing parent. We asked one expert to offer some advice.

Checking in

The author of Parental Guidance: Long Distance Care for Aging Parents, Ana McGinley recommends setting aside time, be it every day or every week, to chat with your parent(s), preferably using a video app. “This time is about providing social contact, support and, if needed, to monitor health and safety,” says Ana. “For example, if you suspect that a parent may have dementia, this can become obvious through repetition of stories and concerns, a lack of logical explanation about events and problems, and issues finding the correct words in the conversation.”

Power of attorney

Ana also advises ensuring that your parent has completed the relevant healthcare directive forms and power of attorney documents that allow for a substitute decision maker in both financial and healthcare decisions: “As part of this legal work, have in depth discussions with your parent(s) about their preferences for healthcare treatment should they become gravely ill. If they are no longer safe living in their own home, what alternative options would they be happy with? Do they have a preferred funeral and burial plan?”

Clear lines of communication

“Also, introduce yourself to any healthcare providers, and if agreed to by your parent(s), identify yourself as a person to be contacted if concerns about your parent are raised. If you have a parent in hospital, you can ask to be included in discussions with their treating team by phone or video app,” adds Ana. “There are some helpful tools recommended in the care of an older person who lives alone. Generally, speaking to an occupational therapist is beneficial in identifying which tools best suit your parent(s).”

Digital tools

“For example, there are phone apps that can track someone with dementia to reduce the time needed to locate them, should they become disoriented and lost. Food delivery services can be arranged online, resulting in older people continuing to enjoy food from the restaurants and supermarkets they like. Alarms and electricity cut-off devices on appliances like stoves have improved safety in the home. Finally, services that provide a daily check-in that the person is out of bed, can quickly pick up any problems that may have occurred during the night.”

Stock photo: Pexels

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.

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