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6 Ways to Care For Your Aging Parents From a Distance

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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

More by this author

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 January 13, 2022

10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

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10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

A honeymoon is important.  The wedding is over.  The months, or even years, of stress and planning are finally over.  It’s time for the two of you to relax, settle in, and start enjoying your time together as you embark on your first journey as a family.

To make the most of this time for the least amount of money, it’s important to focus on what you want out of a honeymoon.  This isn’t your typical list of touristy honeymoon locations everyone goes to.  Rather, it’s a list of cheap honeymoon experiences a couple can enjoy together, regardless of where it’s at.

1. Camping

A week long camping trip is a fantastic way to see how you mesh together as a couple.  You’re put in a low impact “survival” situation where it’s just the 2 of you and nature.  You have a chance to see how your new spouse handles themselves when left with the basics of life.  There are amazing national parks all over the United States where you can camp for a week for $20-30, disconnect from technology, and enjoy some of the natural wonders our nation has to offer.

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2. Staycation

You don’t have to go anywhere for a honeymoon.  In fact, the tradition of taking a honeymoon vacation is a relatively new one.  Prior to the 19th century, a honeymoon involved staying home together for a month to get to know each other physically.  Think of how blissful it could be to take a full month off work, disconnect from the outside world, and focus entirely on projects together.  You may not be wowing your friends and family with pictures of some exotic location, but they’ll be envious of your escape from the rat race nonetheless.

3. Island Getaway

People tend to overspend on their honeymoon vacations to Hawaii, Tahiti, etc.  Going to these places doesn’t have to be expensive.  You don’t need to stay in a 5 star resort when you’re on a Best Western budget.  You’re there to be in the atmosphere of the island, not a hotel room. Book a cheap flight and sleep in a hotel alternative, on the beach or in your car.  It’s the view in paradise that really matters.

4. Fancy Resort

Book an expensive resort, spa, or retreat in the city you live in.  While this may seem counterintuitive as a cheap destination, when you consider your savings on airfare and other travel costs, you can afford to be treated like royalty within your own city limits.  If you book a honeymoon package, you’ll end up with a lot of free amenities and extra attention.  There’s no need to fly halfway across the world to live the good life.

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5. Road Trip

The journey is often more fulfilling than the actual destination.  If you fly out to some exotic locale, you’ll be stuck on a plane for 8-30 hours.  Rent a luxury car, pick a handful of places you each have always wanted to visit, and go on an adventure.  You can keep food costs down by packing your own snacks, but it’s always a good idea to sample the local delicacies wherever you go, even if it’s only a few states over.

6. Charter a Boat

If the ocean is your thing, a week-long cruise can cost you $1500-$3000 per person, depending on the destination.  You also have to factor in travel costs to and from the cruise, alcohol, souvenirs, and on-shore excursions.  You’ll also be surrounded by people.  For the same price (and often much cheaper), you can charter your own boat and enjoy the experience in private.

7. Las Vegas/Atlantic City

If gambling is your thing, these are the places to do it.  Which one you choose depends on your preference, budget, and proximity.  The way to make this vacation cheaper is to gamble smart.  Stay away from low odd tables (i.e craps, roulette) and read up on the MIT blackjack strategies to beat the house.  If you do it right, you can win enough for a free trip (and gain a valuable team skill in the process).

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8. Themed Retreats

There are weeklong retreats all over the world where you can fully immerse yourselves as a couple into a hobby you’re both passionate about.  Go on a yoga/meditation retreat, a ranch, a vineyard/farm, a backpacking adventure, treasure hunt, or whatever you’re into.

9. Working Honeymoon

Your honeymoon doesn’t have to be a vacation.  For a truly memorable experience, dedicate a week to a charity or volunteer organization.  You can drive out to a campground to help restore it in the offseason.  Maybe you’ve always wanted to volunteer to help out your local animal shelter, plant trees, help the homeless, etc.  Use the time to do something together as a couple that will fulfill you spiritually while contributing to the community.  Just because you’re on a honeymoon doesn’t mean you can’t be productive.

10. Festivals, Fairs & Special Events

Every city, state, and country has festivals, fairs, and special events.  Find one you’re interested in.  If you time your wedding right, your honeymoon can be a trip to one of these festivals.  Burning Man, SXSW, Bonnaroo, the Renaissance Fair, regional harvest festivals, Mardi Gras, New Years Eve in Times Square, a movie premiere, or whatever you’re into.  If you plan your honeymoon at the right time in the right place, the possibilities are endless.

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Featured photo credit: Josue Michel via unsplash.com

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