How to Stay in Touch with Your Parents When Life Gets Busy

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Time and distance are among the biggest obstacles to maintaining a link between you and your senior parent. No matter how much you want to preserve your close relationship, there always seems to be too few hours left for visits. If that’s not bad enough, there may also be way too many miles separating the two of you.

But no one has to tell you how important it is to stay connected. When there’s a lapse in communication, there’s no telling how long it will take for you to hear about Mom’s last doctor’s visit. Or Dad’s latest fish tale. Or the most-recent update on neighborhood activity that can be entertaining or – at times – alarming.

Despite the obstacles, it’s important and healthy for you and your senior parent to maintain a close relationship. Here are a few ways to stay connected.

A telephone call away

When it comes to communicating long distance, your senior parent is most likely to do so by phone. Like their younger counterparts, senior moms and dads are probably using wireless phones to make and receive calls, says the National Health Institute Survey. In the first six months of 2012, more than one of every three households (35.8 percent) did not have a landline telephone but did have at least one wireless telephone.

Accessibility with the help of Skype

Skype is a computer software application that enables users to:

  • See family members during a free group video call
  • Reach friends with free video calls
  • Make affordable phone calls and send text messages to mobile phones and landlines
  • Chat daily with free instant messages
  • Send messages that can be seen, heard and felt with video messaging

In 2013, Skype reported that its users spent more than 2 billion minutes connecting with each other on a single day.

No substitute for visits or family trips

When a phone call or online session won’t do, it’s time to plan a face-to-face visit or a trip to a locale familiar or unknown. Your visit may focus on a Sunday afternoon drive or an evening of playing cards or board games. Then again, you may be in need of an outing to a theme park or your annual family routine. Any setting provides a prime opportunity to strengthen familial bonds.

Spend time in hobby heaven

You and Dad always loved collecting stamps. And you and Mom could spend hours perfecting your needlepoint techniques. Shared hobbies are a great way to immerse yourself in the activity – and the relationship – you’re likely to enjoy the most.

Of all the good things about getting old, the best by far, according to older adults who participated in a Pew Research Center Survey, is being able to spend more time with family. Twenty-eight percent of those ages 65 and older say what they value most is the chance to deepen bonds with loved ones.

No matter the activity, connectivity is crucial.

For more information on the challenges of aging, download the “Parent Care Guide.”

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