This Sunday marks the 25th National Parents’ Day, a commemoration launched to celebrate and support parents for their role in helping to develop strong communities by raising happy children. Even when a child grows up into a self-sufficient adult, they are still that precious baby in an aging parent’s eyes. Parents’ Day can serve to remind adult children that their senior parents likely are needing more of their love and support. This need has become a clear priority in this time of pandemic, given that the risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases for older adults and the elderly.
Of course, jobs and life events tend to separate adult daughters and sons from their parents. This often leaves children far away from mom and dad, and visits back home to see them likely have been less frequent over the years as “life happens.” COVID-19 has put a new focus on increased communication as a necessity for the emotional and mental health of elderly parents due to travel restrictions and stay-at-home advisories.
Right now, you can’t put a price on the value of letters, packages, cards and other tangible items received by a senior loved one. Even more dear are phone calls offering a little more intimacy, especially if you feel your parent needs to hear your voice. In addition, technology today allows us to reach parents through live video communication. Whichever medium of connection you choose to bond with your parents from afar, it can make the distance between you seem smaller.
If you are a long-distance family caregiver, managing an aging parent’s care can get in the way of bonding if you take more of a “supervisor” or “babysitter” role over your mom or dad. Don’t hesitate to contact an Amada Senior Care advisor to discuss ways to preserve your relationship or learn about user-friendly technology designed to help them live safely and independently at home. Read on for more ideas on how to bond with your parents and keep those crucial lines of communication open.
- How are you? Mean it when you ask, listen and inquire further on their response.
- Who’s been keeping you company? Find out who your parents’ friends and caregivers are, then get to know how your parents feel about them.
- What has been making you happy lately? Know where your parent sources their happiness. Just telling you about a person, TV show or hobby they enjoy can make your parent very happy.
- Did you catch that movie/show? Follow up on your parents’ interests, like games they watch, television shows they love or movies that have just come out. If you also share these interests, there is a lot for you both to talk about!
- Did you know …? Let your parent know about family updates or other interesting things that affect either of your lives. Aging parents learn easily by word-of-mouth from people they trust.
- How was that last doctor’s appointment? Keep a rapport of your parent’s health care. Show that you are both concerned about and up-to-date with their well-being.
- What’s new with …? Know what has already been going on in your parent’s life. Ask for updates about things they have been doing.
- Family updates Tell your parent about your spouse, your children, or any other relatives that they may not talk to often. Keeping a parent in tune with the family makes them feel like part of a community.
- General news in both of your communities If you know of important or interesting news in your community or your parents’, talk about them. Maybe there is an important weather update or fun event to look out for.
- News about you Part of the joy of connecting with your parent is letting them know about your life. Talk about work, family, and how you feel about anything else in life. Your parent may be very interested in you.
- Why you called Sometimes, we feel an invisible nudge to reach out to our aging parents. They want to know why you call. They want to know why and how you care.
- Who else says hello If someone has told you to say hello to your parent for them, let your parent know. It is nice to know that someone thought of them.
- What life is like for you Let your parent live a bit vicariously through your adventures through life. Share life triumphs or battles with your parent.
- Interesting things you’ve learned When you learn something new about other people, technology, politics, celebrities, or anything else, share it! If it interested you, your parent will be interested in finding out why.
- Health updates If you have a hand in managing your parents’ health care, give them gentle reminders about upcoming appointments.
- Pictures You can bet on your parent saving every picture you send. Send photos via snail mail or email of your life to give them access to you from far away.
- News Clippings When a family member, friend, or beloved sports or celebrity figure is in the newspaper, send a link via email or a clipping via snail mail of it to you parent. If you know what news your parent will care about, they may want something tangible as a keepsake.
- Hobby Items If your parent has a hobby, send them material for it. Craft items, instruction manuals, magazines, or even samples of work encourage your parent to keep up with their hobby.
- Clothes Anyone can send their parent a new outfit. But if there is spirit wear for your child’s sports team or branded apparel from work that you can send them, they will wear it proudly as a representation of you and to feel close to you.
- Work Samples When you are particularly proud of a piece of work, send a copy or review of it to your parent.
- Children’s Schoolwork Children from any grade level bring home work that they want to show off. After congratulating your child for their artwork, test grades, or essays, send them to your parents to include them in the celebration.
- Holiday Cards If you are unable to meet face-to-face for a holiday, send a card or call to show you care.
- Web Articles or Videos Online, it is easy to email or share content on social media. Share web articles or videos that interest you with your parent. The small gesture lets them know that you are thinking about them.
- Your differences and similarities As you and your parent age, you may realize you are either more similar or different than you think. Learn characteristics that you share in common with your parent. Learn how they do things differently, and whether it’s good for you to adopt their strengths.
- Technology Technology typically advances faster than the elderly can learn it but taking the time to help your parent understand a smartphone, tablet or computer might make communication easier with them. Be patient when you introduce technology to your parent. It will pay off.
- New ways to communicate If there are barriers to break down while you maintain a close bond with your parents from afar, you will inevitably learn new ways to communicate. Already, the distance between you affects how you connect. But growing in adulthood and old age also teaches us how to relate, how to talk like adults and how to listen. Practice and build good, healthy communication with your parents to make the most of your close bond.
“Maintaining Close Bonds with Parents from Afar,” by Michelle Mendoza and updated by Michelle Flores, Amada blog contributors.