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Published on June 17, 2020

6 Ways to Care For Your Aging Parents From a Distance

6 Ways to Care For Your Aging Parents From a Distance

Are you struggling with how to care for aging parents while being a full time mom, dad, or employee?

Balancing your own responsibilities while caring for your parents can be a monumental challenge. Perhaps you live in another city, you’re spread too thin with commitments to your own career or kids, your parents are self-isolating, or you just don’t get along.

Regardless of the reason, there are a host of new technologies that are revolutionizing caregiving, allowing you to ensure your parents safety, health, and happiness without having to be physically present. A win-win for all!

1. Stay Connected

As our parents get older, many lose their best friends, family, and loved ones to age, leaving them exposed to the dangers of isolation and loneliness[1]. Fortunately, it’s never been easier, or cheaper, to stay connected from afar. Whether through phone, text, or video, you can speak with your parents every day, no matter where you are.

You can even use video chat to involve your parents in family activities. For example, you can have your parents read a bed time story to your kids every night, do a toast at dinner time, or let them watch your kids at their soccer game. The possibilities are endless.

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You should also use that time to visually monitor your parents for changes in their appearance, mood, or behavior. Do they look sad, anxious, or tired when they normally wouldn’t? Are they getting dressed, combing their hair, etc.? Any significant changes should be investigated further.

2. Set up Deliveries

As our parents age, many will lose the ability to drive or have mobility or vision issues, making shopping on their own virtually impossible. Making sure your parents have groceries, meals, medications, and household items is critical. In the past, you’d have to go shopping for your parents, maybe even cook them their meals if they couldn’t do it themselves. Now, you can simply set up delivery.

To help ease the burden of shopping for your parents, set up home delivery for their groceries. You can do the same for their medications from their local or online pharmacy and make sure they come sorted by day in convenient pill packs. If your parents have trouble making their own hot meals, look for the local Meals on Wheels[2] in your area and see if they can deliver prepared meals to your parents’ doorstep.

3. Organize Access to Help

Falls are the number one cause of injuries[3] to older adults. They cause more fatalities, head trauma, and broken hips than any other source of injury. Knowing your parents can get help, even when they’re injured and alone, is key to their independence and your peace of mind.

Older adults can now access life alert systems[4] that protect them in and outside their home, use GPS, and have automatic fall detection. They can wear a pendent around the neck, on their wrist, or integrate the technology into a smartwatch. Other technologies don’t require you to wear anything at all and have wall mounted devices that monitor movements, or lack thereof, in your home.

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Regardless of the technology, it’s easy to offer your parents access to help in the event of a fall or medical emergency to protect them in case of an accident in the shower, on the stairs, or in their garden.

4. Install Home Security

Seniors tend to be more vulnerable to theft, abuse, and exploitation than the rest of the population. Social isolation, cognitive decline, impaired mobility, poor vision, and increased trustworthiness[5] all tend to make older adults prime targets, not only from strangers, but even more so from caregivers and family members.

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to keep a watchful eye over those coming into contact with your parents. First of all, you can install a video doorbell. Doing so will allow you to see who’s at your parents’ door and when. In fact, you can set it up so you can talk to them from the intercom before they enter, and you can be the one to unlock the door.

You can also install video cams with microphones inside the house. This will allow you to monitor those who might be taking care of your parents or entering their home. You can see if your parents are being treated properly, talked to respectfully, and being paid attention to. You should even make the cameras visible to act as a deterrent to nefarious behavior.

Lastly, you can add a home security system, which you can arm and disarm remotely from your phone, to ensure your parents and their valuables are protected from home intruders.

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5. Consider Smart Home Management

Remember those days when seniors had trouble using the TV remote, thermostat, radio, or telephone key pad? Those days are long gone.

As seniors age, poor vision, mobility, and manual dexterity can make many routine tasks become anything but routine. Fortunately, many new smart home technologies, like digital voice assistants (Amazon Alexa or Google Home, for example), are dramatically facilitating routine tasks.

For example, seniors with poor visibility can now turn on their TV and change channels from the digital voice assistant. Your parents can also call you with a simple voice command without having to fumble through a phone book or tiny keypad. Not only that, but they can also control the temperature, lights, locks, and radio all by voice command. All of those functionalities can make living independently at home much easier for your parents.

6. Provide Assistive Devices

Many seniors move out of their homes because they outgrow them. Instead, try helping your parents by having their homes adapt to their needs. There are a slew of devices[6] that can really help them avoid injury and make life a lot easier as they age in their homes.

Perhaps one of the most important is the addition of grab bars in the shower, bath, and by the toilets. We can all slip getting in and out of the tub, and having a grab bar nearby can literally be a life saver for seniors.

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Other helpful aids include motion-sensing water taps (great for those with arthritis and memory impairment because they automatically shut off), bidet toilets (ensures proper hygiene and helps those who have trouble reaching, and dramatically reduces UTI’s), and a shower chair (makes it easier to clean all body parts).

Final Thoughts

You can see that even if you live in another city, or you’re at work or taking care of your own kids, there are still plenty of great ways to care for your parents’ health, safety, and happiness.

While nothing can replace a hug, a kiss, or breaking bread with mom and dad, sometimes it’s just not possible. Technologies are revolutionizing how we’re able to care for and interact with our parents. Perhaps most importantly, it’s also giving them the ability to remain in their own homes far longer than in the past while maintaining their dignity and independence.

More Tips on How to Care for Aging Parents

Featured photo credit: LOGAN WEAVER via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] National Institute on Aging: Social isolation, loneliness in older people pose health risks
[2] Meals on Wheels America: Find a Meals on Wheels Provider Near You
[3] CDC: Important Facts about Falls
[4] Senior Safety Reviews: Life Alert Cost Comparison and Review
[5] Scientific American: Why Older Adults Are Too Trusting
[6] Seniorlink Blog: Home Modifications for Aging in Place

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Marc Felgar

Marc Felgar is an aging, health & senior care expert focused on improving the lives of mature adults.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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