Aging parents are a blessing and a responsibility. You want them to be healthy, but juggling their needs with your career and familial responsibilities can be difficult. When working abroad, caring for your aging parents is even more challenging. And it is a common concern across the US.
According to a 2021 survey, there were 55,892,014 people aged 65 years and older in the US. That is 16.8% of the total population. On the other hand, an article from the Washington Post shows that around 3.9 million American civilians work abroad. This shows how many people have to face this situation.
Hence, spreading awareness about different strategies to care for your parents while working abroad is necessary.
Understanding the Health Needs of Aging Parents
Understanding the health needs of aging parents is essential. It can help you ensure they are getting the proper care and treatment.
Understanding your parent’s health needs means understanding what kind of illnesses or injuries they might have. For example:
- Do they have any allergies? If so, what are those allergies? Are there any medications that could cause an allergic reaction if taken with another drug?
- Does your parent take any prescription or over-the-counter medications regularly? What side effects do these medications have? How does this affect their ability to eat healthy foods or exercise regularly?
Answering these questions can help you determine what care your aging parents need. This can enable you to take precautionary measures to avoid any unfortunate incidents. For instance, if your parents need medication, you can hire an in-home care service provider to ensure they take it regularly.
Establishing Communication Channels
As a working adult, you’re probably already aware that it’s essential to communicate regularly with your loved ones. But when they live in another country, this can be more difficult than it sounds. You may think that texting is the most efficient way of staying in touch, and it is. But there are other ways as well.
For instance, face-to-face conversations provide more interaction opportunities than text-based communication. Hence, you should use Skype, Meet, or FaceTime to communicate regularly.
However, this also depends on how comfortable your parents are with video technology. The good news is that elders are getting used to such technologies for various purposes. A recent survey revealed that around 64% of elders were comfortable with video technology in 2020.
Hiring an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse
If you are working abroad and cannot be with your parents, they must have a qualified nurse who can care for them. An Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP) is a registered nurse who has received additional training in adult healthcare issues.
They can perform many of the same tasks as other nurses. But they can also specialize in treating older patients with complex medical conditions or those recovering from surgery. Moreover, they are also trained to show more empathy towards the elderly. This means that they can offer emotional support when required by your parents.
When hiring an AGACNP, you should consider his or her educational background. According to Baylor University, an AGACNP should know how to advocate for aging patients with complex conditions or disabilities. Moreover, the individual should also be able to utilize evidence-based practice and inter-professional collaboration for efficient care.
However, not all AGACNPs will have the same skills. By primary certification criteria, there are 6.1% AGACNPs in the US, according to November 2022 records. These NPs may have other certifications as well. The level of education they receive, master’s or doctorate, will also play a vital role in what skills they have.
An AGACNP with a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) certification will have the suitable skills required for caring for aging parents. AGACNP DNP programs train the students to excel in all areas, like empathy and healthcare. Thus, nurses with an AGACNP DNP certification will have the expertise to provide efficient home care.
Financial Planning and Support
Your parents may be in their 80s or 90s, but they must still live their best lives. If you work abroad, ensuring your aging parents get the care they need can be difficult. As a son or daughter, you must ensure your parent’s financial needs are met. Here are some tips on how this can be done:
- Ensure there is a plan for when something happens unexpectedly. This includes having a will so everything gets distributed properly after death. Don’t forget about any assets like real estate or stocks.
- Provide financial support if needed; maybe even consider helping them manage their money. This could include paying bills directly from abroad via PayPal, Venmo, etc.
Implementing Remote Care Strategies
You must implement remote care strategies to ensure their good health when you’re away. One way to do so is by leveraging technology. You can use technology to monitor their health and safety when working abroad.
You can set up alert systems for medication refills or doctor visits. It will let you know about it immediately when something needs attention. These devices can assist in remotely monitoring heart rhythms, stress levels, blood sugar, and body temperature.
That’s probably why the remote health monitoring market is gaining an unprecedented pace. According to Precedence Research, the remote health monitoring market stood at $4.82 billion in 2022. It is projected to increase to $19 billion by 2032.
Balancing Work and Caregiving Responsibilities
Balancing work and caregiving responsibilities is one of the most challenging parts of caring for an aging parent. Finding time for both is important, but it can be difficult when you’re working abroad. Here are some tips on how to manage your time:
- Set boundaries for yourself at work so that you know what’s expected from you and what isn’t.
- If possible, try not to schedule meetings during normal working hours. This way, there won’t be any conflict between work and family obligations.
- Work with your employer to explore flexible work options such as remote work, adjusted hours, or compressed workweeks.
- Create a schedule that delineates work hours and caregiving responsibilities. Avoid multitasking during work hours to maintain focus.
- If applicable, leverage time zone differences to your advantage. Schedule work tasks during your parent’s resting hours and allocate dedicated caregiving time during your non-working hours.
- Identify high-priority tasks at work and in caregiving. Focus on what truly matters to prevent feeling overwhelmed by an extensive to-do list.
- Leverage productivity tools and apps to streamline work tasks. Additionally, use technology to monitor and manage caregiving responsibilities more efficiently.
- Establish emergency backup plans for both work and caregiving. Identify colleagues who can step in during work emergencies, and have local contacts who can assist with caregiving in unexpected situations.
We hope the information in this article has given you a better understanding of the issues that aging parents face. Remembering that every family has unique needs is important, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The most important thing is to know what resources are available in your community. This will help you explore all options before making decisions about caregiving responsibilities.