Long distance relationships can be difficult. This can be especially true when caring for an aging parent.

Beyond missing your parents, a few practical difficulties might arise as they age. This can include helping them manage their finances, choose decision makers, and complete their estate planning. Based on their long-term care needs you may also need to help coordinate caregiving, in-home or otherwise, and assist them with more complicated tasks such as insurance, a health diagnosis, and any number of day-to-day tasks.

In each of these situations, communication is key. As a loving family member or friend, how can you help if you don’t know what’s going on? Consistent communication is not only critical to provide much needed support, it also shows how much you care.

Thankfully, modern technology has made it easier than ever to stay in touch. Smart phones, text messages and email make for instantaneous connections across any geographical distance. If your elderly parent needs a smartphone remember that he or she may also need instructions to be able to effectively use it. As you help your parent, proceed with plenty of patience and focus on building one new lesson at a time.

There’s also an array of functional phone choices with moderate pricing plans. Enlarged text and simplified home screen configurations can go a long way toward alleviating initial confusion.

Video chat applications like Skype and Facetime (for iPhone users) also make for simple and rewarding conversational experiences. They’re easy to negotiate and really do offer a greater sense of closeness than a regular phone call. Video can also help you have a better of understanding of what your parent needs but is unable to express to you through words.

Through technology you can also access shared scheduling and contact apps. These can be helpful, especially when you loop in local resources in your elder parent’s community. These resources can include doctors’ offices, churches, pharmacies, neighbors, and senior support groups.

Help your parent use these tools to keep a shared calendar with you of local social events in their community. You can check-in shortly after an elder parent attends one. Talking about new friends and events can be a light way of touching base but maintain steady communication.

Although technology can make it easier to stay connected with your loved ones, be sure to visit as much as reasonably possible. While circumstances may dictate the need to have a long distance relationship with your parents and frequent communication can make it easier, an in-person hug is irreplaceable. Do you need help with this or any challenges your parent is facing? Do not wait to contact our law firm and schedule a meeting.