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When aging parents live far away

With many of our readers travelling long distances to be with family members next week, we find it appropriate to discuss the difficulties that adult children may have with caring for aging parents who live far away. For people in these situations, there may be some substantial difficulties as they may have to leave their jobs at a moment’s notice or make continual trips to be with elderly parents as they decline.

Adult children may also have to contend with the possibility that their parents may not always tell them if they are having difficulties, particularly if they involve money or health problems. Older parents may feel embarrassed about sharing such issues with their children. After all, they have been caregivers for all of their adult lives, and may not be able to comprehend the fact that they now need help.

Because of this, there are a number of recommendations for adult children to follow, as described by One important step is for children to move closer to their aging parents, so that parents can maintain their independence while having caregivers close by. Depending on a child’s work schedule or line of employment, this may be easier said than done. If such a transition is difficult, having other family members (such as siblings) close by is a viable option.

Before changing zip codes, however, it is critical for adult children to have frank conversations with their parents about their well-being. This includes discussions about their estate plans, which should include a will, and a healthcare directive.

Source:, “Taking care of aging parents from a distance,” Paul Sullivan and Kerry Donahue, November 19, 2013 

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