Living 1700 miles away from Mom and Dad - how does one take care of parents long distance?

2 answers | Last updated: Sep 20, 2016
Ken belzer asked...

My Mom has Dementia and in a very good home in Arizona, I live in Illinois, Mom and Dad retired there 17 years ago. Mom now has Dementia, that can be aggressive at times and since she has lived in the home seems more peaceful and is taking her medications by an excellent director and Nurse. We are financially strapped due to this economic situation and my Husband's companies closings. He is now employed and so am I , but to fly out to Arizona or drive is costly. We have done this twice this year and it is taxing. My Father as said her Dementia would go away if I would take them both home and take of them. He said Dementia is only caused from the lack of family taking care of family and will never except Dementia can not be cured. Dad lives alone now, but we do have Hospice checking up on him during the week and visiting Mom as well. They are both 80. the social worker gives me updates constantly. I am saving to go to Arizona after the first of the year as our paid time off for both my Husband and myself will kick in to pay for the trip. I respect my Dad's anger on his live changing and the distance between us. Even though he is angry I tell him I love him and will always try my best with my own circumstances. How does one take care of parents long distance? Prayer as been a Blessing and daily prayer to our Lord as I do know Give me the strength Lord to accept what I can not change, and change what I can and to know the difference. God Bless Families that are far away and do their best with the Grace of God.


Expert Answers

Brenda Avadian, brings knowledge, hope, and joy to family caregivers for loved ones with Alzheimer's and dementia. She cared for her father with Alzheimer's and helps families one-on-one and in groups. She is the author of eight books, including the pioneering memoir "Where's my shoes?" My Father's Walk through Alzheimer's and the Finding the JOY in Alzheimer's series. She presents vivid, compelling, and funny keynotes to both professional and family caregiving audiences.

Janet, being a hands-on caregiver is hard enough, but long-distance caregiving for parents with dementia brings its own challenges.

It's hard to navigate care from a distance. Fortunately, the home in which your mom lives seems to be taking good care of her. Still, it's not the same as being able to drive a short distance to spend time with your parents.

You didn't mention this but do you have other family members who can help with either visiting or even briefly looking after your parents?

Can your dad help pay for your trips to Arizona so you can visit more frequently? A related option is to alternate visits to your parents with your husband. One time you fly to Arizona and the next, your husband does. Although, you won't be traveling together, you'll at least afford more frequent visits than if the two of you visit together. More visits may actually give you more peace of mind.

Janet, with your dad suggesting your mother's dementia could be cured if the family were together (this may lift her spirits but her dementia will continue its downward spiral), what are your feelings about and ability to help your parents move back home to Illinois? You could find a similar care home as she is in now and your dad can either live with you or rent a small senior-living apartment. Of course, the benefit of being closer to family comes with risks, such as uprooting two 80-year olds from their established community and social relationships over 17 years in order to move them across country.

It may not seem like it right now, but you are fortunate that your mom is being cared for by competent staff and that your dad is being looked after by hospice while you receive regular updates. Still, the distance doesn't make it easier as your heart reaches out to both of them.

Beyond the considerations above, here are three resources to shed more insights on long-distance caregiving.

Distance Caregiving: Advice on Looking After Someone From Afar

How can I help my mom take care of my dad at a long distance?

Long Distance Caregiving


Community Answers

Ken belzer answered...

This question was from Janet Belzer, Ken Belzer's wife,but my Husband has been my Blessed Support,

Janet Belzer