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Caring for an Aging Parent When You Live Far Away

Caring for an Aging Parent When You Live Far Away

By June Duncan

Last week, your mom’s electricity was cut off because she forgot to pay the bill. You were able to fix the situation, but it left you frustrated. Living far away from your mom makes it harder to help her. And, of course, Mom doesn’t want to move across country to live with you. She values her independence and refuses to leave her home and all her friends. So what’s a child to do when aging parents are having issues but don’t want to live with you? Read on for tips on how to use technology and various services to keep your loved one healthy and safe.

Tech Solutions for the Long-Distance Caregiver

If you’re a long-distance caregiver, using technology can provide you with peace of mind when your elderly parent lives far away. Today’s technology provides an abundance of choices.

For example, smart home systems allow you to lock and unlock doors from a distance so that medical personnel and caregivers can enter your parent’s home in an emergency. Motion sensors and video cameras monitor your parents so you can keep an eye on them even if you live hundreds of miles away.

Need a place to keep all your parent’s financial and medical records? Use a digital notebook. You have all the freedom of an old-school notebook and pen but can immediately transfer whatever you write into the Cloud by using your smartphone. It keeps your parent’s important information in one place so if there’s ever an emergency, you have your parent’s data right at your fingertips. Your caregiver notebook should include email addresses, phone numbers, important records and prescription information.

If your elderly parent isn’t taking his or her medication, buy a medication monitor. It alerts you if your parent has forgotten to take their medicine. Many adults worry their parents may have a medical emergency and have no way to call for help. Medical-alert systems take care of this issue, and senior citizens can wear these high-tech alert systems. If they fall or need assistance, they only have to press a button and it immediately notifies emergency medical personnel.

Apps to Help Care for Your Parents Needs

Worried about your parent and want to literally “see” how they’re doing? Use a video chat app like Facetime or Skype. These apps allow you to talk to your aging parent face to face. Your parents will feel less lonely and you can do some virtual bonding as well.

Also, tracking your parent’s medical data from afar is a lot easier now that there are apps like HealthVault. Adult children can gather, store, and share their parent’s health information just by downloading the app.

If your parent has a pet, especially a dog, consider hiring a pet care professional. Dogs need to be walked, but your elderly parent may have mobility issues. Apps like can connect you with a dog walker or dog boarder that can help your parent’s pet get the exercise it needs to stay healthy and happy as well.

What if your parent is buying services from unscrupulous telemarketers? Maybe he or she is ordering products from late-night TV, and the bank account balance is zero. Try a service like True Link Cards. You’ll have the ability to monitor your parent’s spending and even receive real-time alerts to help protect your loved ones from financial predators.

 Elder Care Services and More

Living far away from an aging parent is frustrating. Even living an hour away is difficult if you have to travel to their home every day to check on them. That’s where Eldercare services come in.

Many adult children pay for professional caregivers or home health aides to enter their parents’ homes to provide healthy meals, housekeeping, and medical attention. Sometimes paid caregivers only need to spend the day with an elderly person. They might watch TV with their client or take them shopping. If you’re unable to handle the hiring process alone, social workers and geriatric care managers can help you create a care plan for your parent as well as connect them to caregivers in their area.

Being a long-distance caregiver is never going to be easy. You’ll still worry and lose sleep. But when you utilize technology and take advantage of elder care services, you’ll make huge strides in helping your parents live a happier, healthier life — even if you live an ocean away.


To learn more about communicating and caring for an elderly relative and avoiding conflict, read June’s other guest post.


June Duncan is the co-creator of Rise Up for Caregivers, which offers support for family members and friends who have taken on the responsibility of caring for their loved ones. She is also the author of The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers (coming soon).