Caring for a loved one from a distance

There's an old saying, according to Canada Cares, that "when parents are still alive, their children should not go far away," but sometimes, this simply isn't possible. For some, careers may call them to different parts of the country, making it difficult to stay close to their parents. This can pose challenges when it comes time to caring for an aging parent— but that doesn't mean it's impossible to support them from afar. In fact, an estimated 359,700 people living in Canada in 2007 provided long-distance help to a parent, which accounted for 22 per cent of the caregiving population, according to Statistics Canada.

Here are a few different strategies to consider if and when it comes time to support an aging parent from a distance.

Ask someone nearby to help
Sometimes, a simple phone call to your loved one isn't enough to know they are okay. It's not always easy to know how someone is doing through a phone conversation as opposed to meeting with them in person. Communication isn't only verbal—it's also about being able to read body language. So Far Away: Twenty Questions and Answers About Long-Distance Caregiving recommends having someone who lives closer to your loved one stop in for a visit. Asking a trusted relative to visit your loved one's home for dinner or a cup of coffee can give them a chance to catch up.

If another family member lives close to your loved one, ask them to step in and help.
If another family member lives close to your loved one, ask them to step in and help.

Coordinate with other family members
If you and other family members have all decided to share responsibility for caring for your loved one, coordinate your schedules. Lay out your agendas and see which days of the week work best for everyone. Plan to have a family meeting once a month to go over the health of your loved one and discuss future plans.

"Chartwell offers a number of care options."

Consider another option
If you and your family come to realize that your schedules make it difficult to dedicate enough time to caring for your loved one, consider looking at retirement living options in your loved one's area, or in a location closer to you. Retirement residences not only offer a number of care options that cater to individual needs and allow for seniors to age-in-place, they are also social settings that offer regular conversation with like-minded peers and staff, not to mention a slew of engaging activities, programs and outings geared toward seniors' health and wellness.

If your loved one is unsure about committing to a lease, consider Chartwell's Short Stays option, which provides seniors temporary accommodation that includes a suite, meals, activities and any additional care required. It's a great way for seniors to experience retirement living before making the big move. For more information, click here.