There will be a chapter in our lives where we have to take care of our aging parents. But things become a bit trickier if you are living abroad when the time comes. To avoid getting overwhelmed, you should do your research right now and get one or several steps ahead of the situation.
Our parents will age, and we need to be prepared for whatever outcome that might bring with it. Below are a few guidelines for those who live thousands of miles away from their aging parents.
Communication Is Key
No matter what your parents’ age is, you should always stay connected with them. It even becomes more significant if you live overseas and can’t afford to visit them very often. Make time for them in your schedule and try to talk to them face to face at least once a week. Ask your kids if you have any to speak to their grandparents regularly on the phone or social media.
You have to make sure that they understand they are still very much a part of your life. Your aging parents are at a stage in life where they need all the emotional support, they can get from you and your family. If you are a single child, then, in every meaning of the word, you are all they’ve got.
If you haven’t left a sister or a brother behind, then it’s your sole responsibility to take care of them as best as you can while you live abroad. One great tactic you can use is to have as many friends and family members as possible who are willing to help. They can check on your aging parents, help them with their chores, take them to the doctor, prepare meals for them, etc.
Arrange to have someone with a familiar face looking after them. It is integral for anyone with aging parents who still live back home to get updates about their well-being from someone other than themselves.
You Can’t Visit? Bring Them Over Then
It is understandable with your tight schedule and a family to care for, you can’t make lots of time to visit your parents. But they have all the time in the world, so it is way better to fly them in. before you do that though, you need to prepare their paperwork and have a rough idea of how much time that will take. Check detailed Australia parent visa processing time if you live here in Australia. In general, you should know all the steps that you need to take to get them in the country you live in.
Evaluate Your aging parents’ needs
You need to evaluate several different stages in their life to get an overall idea about their condition. These stages are not the same for everyone, but the most common ones are as follows:
- Mental state: The first important factor you need to assess is their cognitive state. Check if they’re conscious of their surroundings. Do they forget to do essential chores around the house? Names of friends and family members?
- Physical health: assess their movability. Can they walk around the house or go shopping on their own comfortably?
- Financial stability: Check their bills and see if they’re struggling financially or not. Are they affording the house bills?
- Home-care: see if their place is clean and tidy. If the house doesn’t look as it used to be, then they can’t do it anymore by themselves.
- Self-care: check their hygiene. Do they take showers regularly? Can they do the laundry on time? Are they presentable enough for their age?
- Social activities: at their age, they can’t be as outgoing as they used to but still should maintain healthy social interactions with family and friends.
- Diet and meal preparation: Check if they are eating healthy and can prepare their meals.
- Medical attention: see if they have any medical needs and how you can help them. Make sure you know their doctors, for example. Have their contact information.
Have an Emergency Plan
Always prepare yourself for the worst. Have a plan for when their health is deteriorating, or something happens that requires your presence. Save up for your travelling expenses beforehand, have someone who lives closer to them and can reach them sooner than you. Prepare all their medical documents and any papers you might think it’s necessary.
- Make copies of all the documentation
- Save all the necessary numbers (their doctor’s number, for example)
- Save enough money
- Talk to your boss about a possible emergency time off
While living abroad, technology can be your best friend to communicate with friends and family back home. Social media apps like WhatsApp and Skype are convenient for making free video calls to talk to your aging parents.
About 48% of social media users are between the age of 65 to 74. It is a good indication that the previous generation is catching up pretty quickly with the new way of life. However, if your parents don’t know how to use social media, it is still possible to teach them or have someone beside them until they get the hang of it.
take it easy on yourself:
The situation is already tricky between your life abroad and taking care of your parents from afar; you can’t afford beating yourself up for not being near them. Instead, please focus on the best job you can do to provide them with the care they need. Try to think positively and enjoy your life. Stop carrying the guilt of leaving them behind on your shoulders. We all have the right to choose our path in life and wherever that path takes us. We don’t believe that it’s our fault. So deal with the circumstances without any conscious or subconscious guilt.
The above strategies are the areas you need to work on if you currently live abroad with aging parents back home. With their brief explanations, these steps should act as guidelines if you don’t know where to start. You can check out which ones need to be focused on more in your schedule and start from there. If you haven’t been connecting with them as much as you should, try to fix that first. Collect as much information as possible about their well-being and their day-to-day life and activities. Is their social life healthy? Do they have a close group of friends and family they can hang out with? In general, you should have a complete map of their life in all of its aspects.