It can be tricky to look after elderly parents and deal with the care system when you live in the UK. But if you’re thousands of miles away, it can often be frustrating to think about managing things remotely. Indeed, many people living in the UK with elderly parents speak of the crushing guilt and anxiety they feel at the mere thought of worsening their loved ones’ health, not to mention the stress it can create with other family members still living at home.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help your parents remain as independent as possible, to allow yourself some peace of mind:
Set Up Skype
You’re still making daily phone calls at home to your parents already. But set up Skype if they have a device or tablet during your next visit and show them how to use it if they’re not already aware of it.
Set up daily ‘chat’ days and times, considering any discrepancies in time between you. After all, it’s not only cheaper to talk to your parents face to face rather than on the phone, it can also be more reassuring for you, as you can see how healthy and happy they look.
You may also encourage your parents to take computer and technology courses such as Skype, the local library, or Age UK will have relevant course information.
Build a Local Network
It can be a big help when you live so far away to have people you know you can call who live or work near your parents and who can pop in on them should you be worried for some reason.
Check for local contacts, including acquaintances, neighbours, family members, social workers, and health professionals the next time you are in the UK, and make a list of their contact information.
Keep in daily contact with them if you are lucky enough to have family members living near your parents, and not only to keep an eye on your parents but for other things as well. One day, you will have to depend on their assistance, so treat them well.
Keep Them Safe
Understandably, many older people prefer to stay at home as long as possible and remain as independent as possible. If your parents are adamant not to move to a nursing home, strive to keep the house where they live as secure as possible by planning to make some required improvements or modifications the next time you are home. Ensure they already have or get any mobility aids they may require, and that if needed, they will also get help keeping the house and garden properly maintained.
Watch For Clues
Keep a close eye out for signs that your parents are not doing as well as they can say they are once you’re back home overseas. It’s expected that if they’re having issues, they do not want to bother you, but resolving health problems early on is better for everyone.
Take note of their appearance and actions if you interact via Skype, and inquire about what they’ve been doing to confirm that they’re taking part in their everyday activities and hobbies.
Ask one of your networks of friends/family/neighbours to pay a visit to your parents if you find anything that is not quite right. In reality, as many older people may feel alone, especially if they’re on their own (a friendly face and a shared cup of tea may make all the difference), ask them to drop in regularly.
Take care of yourself, most importantly. If you’re so overwhelmed that you can’t think straight or work properly, you won’t be able to help anyone. Learn how to transfer money with minimum fees and several other tips that will always give you the strength to assist your parents anywhere you are.