Caregiving from Afar: Tips and Tricks on How to Help Elderly Parents

As many Americans begin to enjoy longer lives, the need to care for them is growing as well. Often, this task falls to the grown children of older adults, even though they have their own immediate families, jobs, health, and community responsibilities to look after. The job can be even more difficult if the caretakers don’t live in the same geographic area as the “caretake—ee.” Still, approximately 7 million individuals are long-distance caregivers. If you’re wondering whether there’s an easier way to fulfill this duty, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” Read on to learn more about how to help elderly parents.

How to care when you can’t be there

No matter what’s keeping you from your elderly parents — a job, distance, or constant travel — here are some ways you can still help them.

Rely on relationships

If you have friends, neighbors, and others that you trust who are geographically close to your loved ones, see if you can enlist the help of these caring individuals. They may be able to call your parents, check in on them, or stop by for a visit once in a while. (However, please note that this is in no way a substitute for qualified, professional home care, which you can learn more about below).
Also make sure that you introduce yourself (by phone, e-mail, or video chat, if not in person) to your loved one’s healthcare professionals. These can include doctors, physical therapists, visiting nurses, and more. You never know when you might to speak with them at length in the future, or coordinate emergency care.

Lightening the load

Similar to having visitors for your mom and dad, if you have siblings who live in the area, ask for them to pitch in. They may be able to do things like perform outside maintenance your parents’ home or lawn, fix little things around the house (or chip in a little money to hire someone), and similar activities. It may help to pick one central person who can coordinate tasks and make sure everyone’s kept in the loop. Remember that it doesn’t necessarily have to be you!

Take advantage of technology

Technology provides a wonderful advantage when it comes to long-distance caregiving. If your parents are agreeable to and able to work with a computer, it can provide a great way to communicate. Now they can e-mail, engage in social media, or utilize video chat. The latter option also provides a great way for you to see each other’s faces instead of just hearing your respective voices over the phone. It also gives you a way to check on your parents’ general appearance, as well as that of their home environment you see in the background.
Another intriguing possibility is security systems that can work alarms and lights with the touch of a (far away) button. Many of these can be set on automatic timers, or you can work them from your computer or cell phone.

Hire home care

In addition to friendly visits and practical assistance by friends and neighbors, consider giving your parents the gift of home care. There will always be certain things that loved ones won’t be able to do for your parents, such give up their 9-5 job to supervise them all day. There are also intimate tasks, such as bathing and visiting the restroom, that they may not feel comfortable performing. And, of course, you want professionally trained, skilled help to provide medical services that a layperson shouldn’t be handling, such as IV administration, or medication monitoring.

How to help elderly parents: taking care of those who took care of you

Some of the techniques for parental caregiving are modern and savvy, like trying out new technologies. But look at how many of them rely on good old community support and professional assistance. Sometimes, the hardest part of any caregiving job – long distance and otherwise – is asking for help. However, once you take this important step, your loved one will have a way to see your love in action – no matter the distance between you!
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home care for older adults. Contact us to find out more.

Institute on Aging

Institute on Aging

Related Posts


Give our dedicated Client Service Specialists a call. We are ready to help.

Follow Us

As we approach the end of #SocialWorkMonth, Institute on Aging would like to take a moment to recognize and celebrate the incredible work being done by all of our Community Living Fund and HomeSafe social workers.

These dedicated professionals have shown unwavering commitment to providing exceptional care to clients and building strong, vibrant communities. We are consistently impressed by the passion and expertise they bring to their work and their ability to connect with clients in meaningful ways. Our CLF and HomeSafe social workers have risen to this challenge time and time again, going above and beyond to support the individuals and families they serve.

At Institute on Aging, we are grateful every day for our social work teams' hard work and dedication. We want to extend our heartfelt thanks to these outstanding professionals for all they do to make a difference in our clients' and communities' lives. You truly embody the spirit of social work, and we are honored to have you as part of our team.

#ThankYou #SocialWork #Appreciation #SocialWorkers #Gratitude #SocialWorkerAppreciation
Sophia became a part of the Community Living Fund team in December 2022, joining at a critical time when additional coverage was required for certain cases. Additionally, CLF was in the process of introducing a new assessment and implementing CalAim services for San Francisco members.

Sophia has been an essential contributor to these ongoing initiatives while effectively managing a caseload of Intensive Case Management (ICM) clients. We were thrilled to receive positive feedback about her support for the TRCS program, which demonstrates her dedication to the agency's mission. CLF is grateful to have a Case Manager like Sophia, who is passionate about serving San Francisco's vulnerable population.

#SocialWorkMonth #WeAppreciateyou #ThankYou #SupportatHome #CaseManager #SocialWorkerAppreciation
Three and a half years ago, Maggie Fang started her journey as an Assessment Specialist in the Support at Home Program at IOA. Her excellent people skills enabled her to manage a caseload of older adults and individuals with disabilities, helping them receive homecare to age in place. Maggie was selected to pioneer the Temporary Respite Caregiver Support program, and we are delighted to have such a skilled and dedicated individual leading our newest program at IOA. Thank you, Maggie, for your exceptional work! 

#SocialWorkMonth #WeAppreciateyou #ThankYou #SupportatHome #CaseManager #SocialWorkerAppreciation
Join us at the Adult Day Program at the Enrichment Center as Caregiver Coach Alex shares with us the incredible support and care provided to participants living with dementia. Clients enjoy various engaging activities, from music therapy to art classes, designed to stimulate their cognitive and physical abilities. The skilled staff at the Enrichment Center also provides caregivers with much-needed support and respite, allowing them to take a break and attend to their needs. If you or someone you know is looking for support in caring for a loved one with dementia, the Adult Day Program at the Enrichment Center in the Presidio is an excellent resource for you! 

Learn more by visiting the link in our bio! 

#DementiaCare #EnrichmentCenter #AdultDayProgram #CaregiverSupport #Presidio #Dementia #Memory #Caregiver