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Supporting ageing parents from afar

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When you live a distance away from your parents or a relative that needs some help or support at home, popping in and knowing how to help can be hard. Whether you live an hour away or in a different country, we’ve gathered some different ideas and ways that you could provide help from afar… 

Bring your family together  
When you or your family members are starting to provide more support for a loved one, bringing everyone together can help you plan care, help you all to understand the situation and make sure everyone is on the same page. Whether it’s a physical meeting or a group discussion over the phone or a video chat, doing this early on will help gather people’s opinions and ideas for possible ways forward, as well as give people an opportunity to share how they can pitch in overtime.  

Keep everything in one place 
We’ve developed an app, YooToo, that can help you collaborate, communicate and coordinate care and support of your loved one, keeping all the information you need in one place and making sure everyone is always in the loop. There is a range of features that can support you to help from afar, including shared contact lists, to-do lists, calendars, medication schedule and much more.  

Setting up a YooToo account can help give you the opportunity to pitch, always know what’s going on and support others who are providing support too.  Find out more about the app and get your 14-day free trial.  

Helping with tasks from afar 
Although you’re not on hand as much as you might like, there’s still a range of support and help you can provide from afar. Whether it’s helping with your loved one’s finances, helping to arrange formal carer support or organising a cleaner – there’s plenty of tasks you can help with from a distance - and you can use YooToo’s tasks to keep on top of things that need doing.  

We have also developed a range of resources on our community site, covering topics such as local community support and sport and physical activity groups for older people. These are activities or groups that your loved one might be interested in attending and that you can help arrange or make a referral too from afar. Browse our online community and see what might be available in your loved one’s local area.  

Prepare for emergencies 
Linked to bringing your family together, it’s important to know what you’d do in an emergency. For example, if your loved one was taken into the hospital, what would need to be arranged? Who could you get in touch with locally to help provide support? How would you visit? Thinking about this situation in advance can ensure that you feel more in control if or when the situation arises.  

Regular phone or video calls 
Loneliness is a real issue facing many older people, especially those living alone. You can help provide support and ensure your loved one isn’t feeling lonely by arranging regular phone calls or video calls. Video calls can be organised on a phone, tablet or computer through a range of apps or websites such as WhatsApp, Skype, Facetime (Apple products), Google Duo as well as a range of other sites. 

If you’re using the YooToo App you can add calls into the shared calendar, so your other relatives know and you can space out calls between your family members.  

Providing respite care 
If a family member is the main person providing hands-on support, think about ways you might be able to give them a break by offering them respite. You could arrange a trip to visit and stay with your loved one for a few days, giving your relative some time off. Alternatively, if your loved one is able to travel, you could arrange for your loved one to stay in your house for a short period of time or could invite them to join you on a holiday.  

Be supportive  
Providing a listening ear to a sibling or relative that’s providing the majority of help is also another great way to provide support from afar. Whether it’s just space for them to share their difficulties or frustrations or for you to discuss ways you can help each other, providing emotional support to your relatives can help everyone in your circle.  

Take care of yourself too  
If you live a distance from your loved one, it can be easy to dismiss the support you’re providing. However, even when living far away, taking on a caring role can be overwhelming and hard work- did you know a study in the US found that people supporting relatives from afar on average spend the equivalent of one day of the week providing support and help?  

Remember, you can only give your best support when you look after yourself too. Make sure you make time to do this and consider looking into support groups that are available in your local area.  

Do you have any other suggestions? Share them in the comments below.  

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