Leaving home will always be a big decision. As for making the choice to leave your home country? That’s about as significant as it gets.
For all of the exciting possibilities life in a new country presents, it’s normal for your enthusiasm to be dampened by concerns for the loved ones you leave behind. If you have elderly parents, it can be particularly distressing to widen the distance between you as their dependency grows. It’s the continued difficulty of living abroad: managing the split responsibility between developing your new life while continuing to protect your family.
Fortunately, we live in an increasingly globalized and interconnected world. Through technology and careful planning, you can enjoy greater peace of mind knowing your parents are just a call, text, or plane ride away. Your attention to detail will give your parents greater confidence knowing you have their best interests at heart.
Here are six ways you can help care for your elderly parents from a distance:
1) Stay Connected with Technology
There’s an app for everything. From video conferencing platforms to free, international text messaging, you can stay connected with your parents at all hours of the day.
Take advantage of popular apps like WeChat, WhatsApp, Zoom and Skype. While your parents can instantly reach you with the messaging apps, build on that interconnectivity by establishing set times to videoconference. Even if it’s once or twice a week, these set routines will help you stay close despite the distance.
For bonus points, be sure to send your parents a postcard or souvenir from your new country.
2) Involve Local Family & Friends
There’s nothing like spending quality time with people. That’s why it’s essential to establish a local point person or team of people who can help monitor and protect your parents.
If you have a sibling or close family friend living near home, encourage them to become a “family manager,” the go-to person responsible for checking on your parents. While your parents may frequently tell you the details of their day-to-day life, it’s important to have an objective observer who can keep you updated on your parents’ health and wellbeing. With a reliable network in place, you’ll have greater peace of mind knowing someone local can respond to sudden and unexpected changes.
3) Hire a Professional Caregiver
If your parents are more advanced in age (and have more specific needs), you may also consider hiring a professional caregiver to provide round-the-clock service. A personal caregiver can visit your parents for a few hours a day or manage everyday duties like laundry, gardening, cooking and more.
While nothing will ever replace your love and attention, many elderly adults come to cherish the friendships made with professional caregivers.
4) Plan for the Future
Before you begin the next chapter of your life, ensure that you have a reliable plan in place for the future. Time flies for everyone, and the effects of aging are multiplied for the elderly.
In addition to establishing your local network of caregivers and medical professionals, develop a tangible plan for the future that includes: your parents’ legal arrangements (appointing power of attorney, writing a living will, etc.), their current home living arrangement, and more. If your parents have mentioned wanting to downsize their home in the near future, encourage them to take steps towards that sooner than later.
Control the things you can with the time you have at your disposal. Free yourself from future anxiety and focus on having these important conversations well before you head abroad.
5) Get Your Parents Involved
If your parents are retired, help them get connected with their local community. Social clubs, volunteer work, athletic events, church groups, and other social leagues will help them stay physically fit and mentally active.
In addition to keeping your parents busy and engaged, it will give you something to discuss with them each and every week.
6) Book Holiday Travel
We all need something to anticipate, especially if our home and parents are far away. Whether your parents visit you or you decide to return home, give them something to mark on their calendars so they can get excited about the future.
While international travel can be prohibitively expensive, consider organizing a vacation midway between your parents’ home and your current country. This helps reduce travel time and cost for both parties and helps create a shared experience in a place that will be new and exciting for all.
The future is uncertain, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed about what tomorrow may bring for the people we love. Plan, don’t panic. The best thing you can do for your parents is connect them to local resources and caregivers that have their best interests at heart.
Whatever your parents may need and whenever they may need it, uLink helps you send money with a great exchange rate and with fees starting as low as $0.
Help your parents prepare for tomorrow, stay in touch with them, and celebrate the small victories along the way. While surrounding them with love, you’ll also provide yourself with peace of mind to enjoy your new chapter of life.