How to care for aging parents when living abroad

The festive season brings families together from all over the world, this includes family members that live abroad who travel thousands of kilometres just for the holidays. It is a wonderful time of the year, but for some it can be fraught with anxiety and guilt especially when returning to or leaving behind aging parents.

Watching your parents grow older and more dependent on the family as their primary caregivers is difficult, especially when you live abroad or are considering moving overseas. There are so many things to consider when it comes to their care, as well as your own feelings that you will have to undoubtedly deal with.

Very often the primary care falls on siblings or family that either live close to or with the parents; they will be the ones who accompany them to medical appointments and see to it that their daily needs are met. This can cause feelings of regret or guilt if another sibling or family member lives abroad, as it is often perceived (whether said out loud or not) that they are somehow spared the stresses and pressure of the main ‘burden’ of the care.

As you will know, if you yourself live abroad while your parents are in other’s care, this is not at all true. It is heartbreaking not being able to see your parents in their “golden years”, not being able to stop in and check on them if you feel like it. Technology has its limitations, and keeping in contact is not as easy if your parent develops a cognitive illness such as dementia or Alzheimer’s and has trouble using technology or does not understand or remember who they are talking to (if they are still able to communicate).

In the case of a health crisis, there is also the dilemma of timing whether to catch a flight now or later to be at their bedside. These worries can all build up and weigh heavily on your personal and professional life, including taking unscheduled leave causing you to feel distracted at work or that you are testing your manager’s patience or colleagues’ goodwill.


How do I take care of my aging parent from across the globe?

Just because you are two flights and an hour in a taxi away does not mean that you cannot be there for your aging parent every day! Making the right decision for their day-to-day care will mean that you can feel more secure in knowing that someone is going to be there for your parent’s every need, including bringing real meaning and dignity into their senior years.

It is even more important to find a care solution suited to your loved one if they develop dementia, as they will require round-the-clock observation and highly specialised care. Dementia sufferers forget to hydrate and often don’t feel hunger, they can also have mobility issues and become disorientated, which is why it is important that they are always moments away from trained medical staff and emergency medical facilities.

Dementia care facilities like Livewell Villages are ideally suited to care for your aging parents, especially if they require specialists. Every resident is unique, which is why Livewell develop a personalised dementia care strategy and plan for your loved one. Communication between the Livewell Villages staff and residents’ families is an essential aspect of the care offering, with family members being consulted on every decision and remaining constantly updated about their loved ones’ activities and wellbeing.

It is possible to feel more at peace with your choice of distance care, especially if you know that the choice you are making is the right one for you, your family, and your aging parent. For more information about our dementia care villages, please email us.

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Since 2011, the Livewell Group has been at the forefront of dementia and Alzheimer’s care in South Africa. We are motivated by a personal and heartfelt concern for the dignity and care of our elders and our efforts continue to be encouraged by the strong market need for specialised individual care.

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