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When an Aging Parent Needs Help from a Distance

For adult children who live a significant distance from their parents, oftentimes it can be difficult to get a complete picture of the situation in your elder adult parent’s home. Because of the limited contact and inability to see into the home and conditions under which they live, and due to pride or not wanting to be a burden, older adults may be reluctant to ask for help when they need it. Fortunately, there are things you can look out for to clue you in to when your older parent might need a bit of assistance in managing their day to day life.

Noticing differences in behavior is a complicated task for a child who lives far from their parent. Without seeing them for extended periods of time, it can be hard to get a read on the situation. One tactic in keeping track of their wellbeing is establishing contact with someone nearby, who does see them. A neighbor, their doctor, a friend or a local relative, any of these people could be a valuable asset in letting you know that your parent’s behavior has changed in a worrying way, or let you know if they’re having difficulty in accomplishing basic, necessary tasks like feeding or cleaning themselves.

If your parent does need help, knowing what to do next is as important as knowing about it. Some problems are simple, like needing a new prescription or a pair of glasses. But in the case of a more serious change, potentially difficult decisions about health care may need to be made, or possibly bringing in some in-home health care for your parent, to assist them with aging in place.