How to deal with your aging parents when you live abroad

I have never spoken about this but one of my constant anxiety here is not being able to take care of my parents when they grow older. I’m lucky because they are still working but what happens when they are pensioners?

My small sister is still living with them but being the firstborn I am, I badly want to be in control. I still think of my sister as a child and I need to stop because she is only 5 years younger than me. So anyway, this is how I should be behaving instead of worrying….

Use the Technology

Distance does not need to be the demise of relationships. Scheduling a weekly Skype call with parents and grandparents is an ideal way to keep in regular contact. Grandchildren can share the highlights of their week.

Appoint a family manager

Family dynamics are complex and the basis for films, books, and mental health problems. Nevertheless, in every family, there is generally one individual with a practical streak which identifies them as the person everyone turns to in times of family stress. Hopefully, they live close to your parents and are willing to take on the role of family manager. Make sure they are aware you will be relying on them for factual information about your parents, should their independence and health deteriorate. Most importantly, ensure that the family manager knows that you appreciate them and the difficult role they have been allocated.

It is all in the planning

Encourage parents to be proactive in planning for their own aging. Discussion about moving from the large family home with multiple stairs, a high maintenance garden, and impractical bathroom with spa should happen years before a move is necessary. 

The meaning of life

A significant problem for elderly people is isolation and loneliness. This is the time that their peers, friends and family members die or become incapacitated through illness. Social contact and a life purpose are important to everyone at all stages of life. Ask about who is actually visiting? Encourage parents to get involved in social clubs, voluntary work, churches, exercise programs.

Go easy on yourself

Being a local or distant family carer is stressful. Living in a different country means you can’t visit to check your parent is receiving adequate care and that services are performing as expected. Not being able to spend quiet time together with an aging parent can cause frustration and anxiety that will distract you from your daily life and become an unconscious source of stress. Take time to also look after yourself, enjoy your life and keep things in perspective.

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