Caring for Your Senior Loved Ones from Afar

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Your parents spent a great deal of their lives caring for you in your younger years and beyond. Once they reach their senior years and you no longer live under the same roof, you might become one of the many Americans that need to reciprocate that care. To make sure your senior loved ones are happy and healthy while you live your life from afar, pay attention to these six areas.

Checking In

A regular check-in – be it a phone call, video call or text – from you can make a world of difference to your parents. In fact, it’s so important that you should consider establishing a regular check-in routine with them to stay on top of how they’re doing and to ask if there’s anything they need. If your parents still rely on a landline, it may be time to consider looking into a mobile device for them. A cell phone will allow your parents to have access to communication with the outside world in their back pocket (literally). Know that there are some cell phones (and plans) better suited for seniors than others, so be sure to do your research before making any decisions. In addition, if your senior loved one gets to be fairly savvy with their device, they can use it to access a variety of online resources to assist them in their everyday life.

Medical

As people age, healthcare becomes a top priority in their lives. It could be beneficial for you to get involved in your parents’ medical care, just like they did for you in your youth. Because seniors are eligible for government-funded Medicare at age 65, expensive private insurance is no longer necessary.

Stay informed about changes to Medicare, especially if your older loved ones don’t have internet access or technological understanding. They might have a tough time staying updated and processing information online, so staying on top of it yourself could be a significant help. You can find many great online resources to guide you both through the Medicare enrollment process. Depending on your parents’ needs, it might be worth looking into alternative plans to obtain better coverage for vision, dental care and prescriptions.

Transportation

Not all seniors are able to drive. Delayed reactions, disorientation, physical limitations, and weakening eyesight can lead to unsafe situations when an elder is behind the wheel. Your senior loved ones will likely need transportation assistance as they continue to age. If you don’t have family, friends, or neighbors around to help, transportation services for seniors might be your family’s best choice. There’s the option of low-cost public transit, but for more private situations, you can call a shuttle from a hospital, church, or community center. Most of these services are free or low-cost for seniors, and they’ll take your loved ones on errands and to and from medical appointments.

Groceries

Some seniors prefer to do their own grocery shopping, so this is where a transportation service could come in handy. For seniors with limited mobility, you can have their groceries or meals delivered directly to their homes. Apps like Instacart and Amazon let you select groceries online and have them delivered on the same day straight to their door. If this poses a financial burden on you or your senior, there are other food resources available. Low-income seniors may be eligible for food stamps (SNAP). The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) is another option for limited income persons aged 60 and older.

Your loved one’s local senior center, church, Meals on Wheels, and food banks may also be able to help.

Housing

In the absence of family, many seniors prefer to live in a retirement community to be among their peers and have a social life. Some communities or facilities have round-the-clock assistance. It doesn’t always have to be an expensive retirement condo in a resort town. There are affordable housing options for seniors, such as home-sharing and co-housing. If your parents are unable to live independently, assisted living is another option. For those with sensitive medical needs, a skilled nursing home might be the only viable place to live.

Custodial Care

Seniors with limited mobility may need help with daily activities. Depending on what their needs are, they could benefit from a caretaker who helps them bathe and get dressed every day. For mobile individuals who can take care of most of their own needs, it’s cheaper to hire help only when needed for strenuous tasks. You might want to consider hiring a house cleaner to tidy up their house every few weeks. Regular maid service will cost less per visit after the initial cleaning.

If you’re feeling guilty about not being around to take care of your parents in their golden years, you can put an end to those feelings now. There are many ways to help from afar by tapping into online services and knowing which low-cost local resources are available. Be sure to leave them in good hands and check on them frequently so you can ease your worries about their health and well-being.

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