What happens when that family member – a grown child – plans to move abroad?
Expatriates face many questions in these scenarios: Should I arrange for in-home care? What to do in an emergency? What if my senior parent declines into a worsened condition? What’s the best way to stay informed about my parent’s health status? Is he/she fit enough to make the move with us?
Here are some thoughts to guide you:
Discuss and plan
-Talk directly to the doctor of an senior parent about his/her condition and future needs.
-Discuss responsibilities with siblings.
-Engage with your parent about their care.
-Identify friends/neighbors who may be called upon in an emergency.
-Keep phone numbers for all parties, including doctors, lawyers, and pharmacies.
Talk to your employer
-Discuss with HR how company policies and benefits might support your anticipated needs.
-Help your immediate staff be ready to manage should you have to travel home on short notice.
-Understand host-country laws regarding short-term leave and dependent care. If local workers comprise your staff, be sensitive to widely ranging attitudes and levels of state assistance in caring for senior parents.
Stay connected while abroad
– Schedule periodic phone or Skype calls to parents, their caregivers, and/or siblings.
– Suggest they keep a journal or list of any issues you should know about that occur between calls.
– If possible, talk to people in direct contact with your parents, setting up communication about any changes or new complications which your parent may be reluctant to share with you.
Consider whether they should accompany you
-If your parent already lives with you, making him/her a part of your home abroad may be a foregone conclusion. Consider the physical layout and space options while looking for host-country accommodations.
– Your family may consider a senior parent who is in good health a welcome addition to your experience abroad, again taking into account space, family dynamics, and available host-country activities.
– Investigate the host country’s support for seniors — in physical environment, medical access, and recreational opportunities, as well as cultural norms that can affect quality of life.
– Find out what travel documentation your host country requires, and include your parent in the process of obtaining visas for your family
Canada: Resources for Seniors
Sweden: Elderly Care in Sweden
United Kingdom: AgeUK
Written by Ellen Harris, GMS, International Product Director, Living Abroad