In the age of email, instant messaging, and video phone calls, it can sometimes seem like the distance between two people no longer makes much of a difference. But when it comes to looking after our elderly family members, the miles between children and their parents matters more than ever. Why Long Distance Care Matters Now More Than Ever
While most Americans live close to their parents, a big chunk of the population — roughly a third of American adults — lives 100+ miles from their mom and/or dad. For these Americans, caring for an elderly parent can be incredibly challenging.
“In recent years, we’ve seen a growing need in terms of long distance care,” saying Visiting Angels President and CEO Larry Meigs. “When kids move away from home for work or family — or when parents retire to a different part of the country — it becomes difficult to maintain the connection needed for quality care.”
When it comes to the miles between family members, demographics play a key role.
One key driver of the distance between adult children and their parents is income and education. These days, major employers conduct nationwide searches for talent, and top jobs often require a cross-country relocation. As a result, Americans with college degrees and high income positions are more likely to live far away from their parents.
The same is true when elderly adults are educated or well-off financially. Parents with high education and lifelong income levels are more likely to live far away from their children. In many cases, affluent seniors move to warmer states, like Florida or California, where they can enjoy a winterless retirement.
One other factor that shouldn’t be ignored is geography. It should come as no surprise that in sparsely populated areas, distance between family members tends to be greater. In particular, families from America’s west — states like Arizona, Nebraska, and Colorado — are more likely to live a long distance from each other, or to have a member of the family relocate out of state.
With so many Americans separated from their parents, it can be a challenge to maintain contact and healthy relationships. But the distance separating American seniors from their children doesn’t just affect relationships — it can also have dire consequences for the health and well-being of seniors.
That’s because seniors who live far away from their children are at much higher risk of senior isolation. This is especially true for seniors who have moved out of state for their retirement, since they are more likely to be isolated from friends.
Loneliness and isolation in seniors have been studied extensively. Researchers have found that loneliness and isolation put seniors at higher risk for physical, mental, and emotional health concerns. Those risks can be exacerbated when adult children don’t maintain regular contact with their parents, or when they fail to pick up on signs of isolation and loneliness.
So how can adult children limit those risks? The senior care professionals at Visiting Angels suggest:
Long distances can become especially challenging when seniors’ quality of life starts to decline. Whether triggered by physical, mental, or emotional changes, many seniors will reach a point where they need outside support or assistance. When this happens, it can be difficult to accommodate your parent’s needs if you live in a faraway city or state.
If your parent wishes to continue living independently, there are some options you can consider:
Should you choose to hire a professional caregiver, many agencies will be happy to coordinate care over long distances. At Visiting Angels, many of our local agencies offer long distance care services and are more than happy to set up care via phone or email. We can also provide you with regular phone updates into your loved one’s care and condition, giving you peace of mind that you might not otherwise have.
To learn more about long distance care available for your mom or dad, simply get in touch with the local Visiting Angels office in your parent’s area.
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Visiting Angels is a national, private duty network of senior care agencies. We are proud to be the nation’s leading provider of non-medical at home care services. With our elder care services, seniors can remain independent and live safely at home. Our senior care services include Social Care, Dementia Care, Alzheimer’s Care, End of Life Care, Companion Care, Private Duty Care, care to prevent hospital readmission, and so much more.
Compassionate, dignified at home senior care is close to home when you connect with your local Visiting Angels office by calling 800-365-4189.View All Articles