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3 Simple Steps to Care for Aging Parents From Afar

Let’s talk about a real challenge many of us face—caring for our beloved parents from miles away. 🛩️

It’s not always possible to pop in for a cup of tea or lend a helping hand in person, but fear not! There are still incredible ways to support and care for your aging parents from a distance. 💖✨

Let’s break it down into three empowering steps.

Step One: Start The Conversation

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of long-distance caregiving, kick things off with a heart-to-heart chat with the primary caregiver—whether it’s a sibling, a relative, or a dear friend. Find out what they need and how you can be an ally in their caregiving journey. 

For instance, if your brother lives just around the corner from your parents and is the main one checking in on them, ask him how you can pitch in. 

Step Two: 8 Concrete Ways to Pitch In

1. Hire House Cleaning: Maybe your sibling is tired of cleaning up your parent’s house—doing the dishes and vacuuming. Offer the gift of a spick-and-span home by arranging for professional house cleaning services. Research local options or, better yet, cover the cost for your sibling or fellow caregiver.

2. Mealtime Support 🍲 : Explore meal delivery services in your parents’ area. A delicious and nutritious meal delivered to their doorstep can be a game-changer, giving your on-site caregiver a well-deserved break.

3. Grocery on Demand: Instead of your sibling constantly doing groceries for your parents, you could sign up to have their groceries delivered to them. Try Amazon Whole Foods, Instacart, UberEats, or often the local grocery store like Stop & Shop may offer its own grocery delivery service. 

Set up grocery deliveries to ensure your parents have all their essentials. You can coordinate with local grocery stores or use online platforms to make their shopping hassle-free.

4. Organize doctor’s appointments: Often as parents get older, the doctor’s appointments pile up. If your parents are hard of hearing or dealing with memory changes it may be hard for them to coordinate visits. You could pitch in to call and coordinate the doctor’s office to schedule an appointment with their primary care doctor or specialist or PT/OT. 

5. Talk to Their Doctors: Even though you can’t physically join them on a doctor visit, consider using Zoom or Facetime to join a doctor’s visit, or make sure to shoot them an email or call the office after the visit to make sure you have a good understanding of what’s happening. Of course – as long as your parents are okay with it. 

6. Be the Go-to Person for family communication: If you’re part of a large family, you could take on the role of communicating the latest updates with your family—whether it’s through a WhatsApp group, an email, or a simple phone call. 

7. Do the Research: Whether it’s time to look for stimulating activities for your parent, install a stairlift, hire in-home help, find an adult day center, an ALF, or a memory unit, or fill out healthcare, legal, or financial documentation, you can do that Google search or a quick phone call. That way you have a couple of different options that you can share with the primary caregiver. 

8. Coordinate a visit: When you are able to visit your parents, make the most of it. Allow your sibling or the primary caregiver to go on a much-deserved vacation. 

Step 3: Get Clear on Your Responsibilities

What are you able to take on? Be realistic—it’s more important that you pick something you can actually follow through on while also keeping your sanity. So pick the 1 or 2 activities you feel most comfortable with, that you’ll be able to fulfill. 

 

Now I’d love to hear from you!


1. Which of these ideas will you use to care for your parents from a distance?

2. What are your go-to strategies to support your loved one from a distance?

Let me know in the comments below.

Here for you 💖

Ashwini Bapat, MD

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Ashwini Bapat, MD is a board-certified Palliative Care and Hospice Physician, coach, and co-founder of EpioneMD. She completed her Internal Medicine Residency and Hospice & Palliative Medicine Fellowship at Yale University, before working at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. She’s devoted to empowering caregivers so that they’re seen, heard, and supported.

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