When you live some distance away from your aging parents, as time goes by you may start to have creeping feelings of guilt that you are not there to provide them with the level of care that you could give if you lived more locally. These feelings are natural, but unless you are prepared to move back nearer to them, you need to develop some coping mechanisms to alleviate the sense of guilt that you may carry. Guilt is a debilitating emotion, and you need to get it in check before it becomes destructive.
Recognize and accept
Failing to address these feelings of guilt can have a negative impact on your relationship with your relatives and your day-to-day life, so it is important that you recognize that you have these emotions. You may be feeling that you are inadequate as a son or daughter and feel guilty that you don’t do enough; however, you need to reflect on the things that you do that add value to their lives and yours. Identify what you can do remotely and what your limits are, and you can then take steps to fill the gap proactively.
We live in a digital age, and now there are many ways that you can communicate from afar. Arrange for a regular time when you can video call, or if technology is not their thing, get into the habit of writing to them regularly. It doesn’t have to be a War and Peace epic piece of literature, rather just a postcard or note. The written form is often received with greater appreciation because it shows you have taken the time to make an effort.
Just because you live miles or time zones away, doesn’t mean that you can’t support a sibling who lives closer and who does the lion’s share of caregiving. They will be under a lot of stress coping with the senior’s natural decline, and as the primary caregiver, they will need your support. You may need to touch base with them weekly, listen to their frustrations, offer financial help, or simply reassurance that their efforts are appreciated.
You don’t want your sibling to resent the fact that you are living away and ‘carefree’; do as much as you can to help them from afar. For example, in the event of an unattended death occurring, you need to be able to protect your sibling from having to cope with the aftermath, so a company such as Advanced Bio Treatment, could help in this traumatic situation.
As your parents’ age, they will start to feel more vulnerable and doubt their abilities to do things that they have previously managed. You can help your parents remain more independent, such as connect them online to their friends, do their grocery shopping online for them, and encourage them to explore new hobbies and groups. Keeping your parents active and social is a great way to maintain and help their independence.
Remote caregiving is on the rise as more and more people move away from their hometowns. It can make you feel guilty for not being there, and this is a normal emotional response to the challenge. Rather than being passive, be active in dealing with your feelings, and focus on the love you have for your parents and not the obligations and duties that you feel you are failing at.