A few years ago, I started seeing worried looks on the faces of friends when talking about their parents. My friends had moved away from home for work or education and now many of their parents were experiencing age related health issues.
As an Indian immigrant to the U.S, I was familiar with this worry. I was reassured by my parents that they were perfectly fine. But then, my father had a heart attack. Of course, my parents had been trying not to worry me since I had small kids and was very busy with work. But then when our family emergency happened, I was completely unprepared. I was not able to fly out on short notice to be with my parents. I wasn’t connected to the people that were helping them - I didn’t have the phone numbers of their friends and neighbors, and they didn’t have my latest contact information either.
I knew I was not the only one feeling this pain. Caring for someone is hard enough, but remote caregiving is even harder!
Parentification is challenging
This is the first thing I learnt through my experience. Parentification is the process of role reversal whereby a child starts to act as a parent to their own parent. Becoming responsible for your parents is always a slightly tricky place emotionally, and different families deal with it differently. Imposing rules on anyone for their safety by curtailing freedoms never goes down well. It didn't work when we were teenagers, and it wont work when we are septuagenarians. But a great place to start, is by getting to know your parents’ support circle, that is, their friends and neighbors. Exchange numbers with them, and make sure you have their numbers handy incase you can’t reach your parents and make sure they know how to contact you. This way you will learn a lot more about your parents and their life today, and make it easier to understand where you might be able to help.
Aging in place is preferred by 90% of people over 65
A planned relocation after retirement is common, often to seek a more relaxed pace of life. My parents had retired to a smaller city where they both grew up. But unfortunately, this city did not have the same level of infrastructure as the metropolis they moved from - fewer hospitals, less reliable public transport, longer distances to drive etc.
We may eventually have to have the conversation about the “semi-voluntary” relocation - either to a retirement community, assisted living or moving in with us. But I think that conversation can be delayed as long as we focus on health and wellness and use everything we know to keep disabilities at bay.
Searching for solutions
Being an engineer, I started exploring the tech solutions that were out there - wearables, sensors, IoT etc. We even tried a couple. The costs were high, and for my parents, they felt the ROI was low. There were false positives, and it turned out that most of their needs are non-medical at this time. They wanted things that would help them be healthier, but they weren’t quite interested in getting a ton of apps for it. Using mobile phones to connect to older adults is supported by recent data which indicate that 77% of adults over 60 now own a smartphone!
Social connections improve the quality of life and delay onset of disability in older adults
Many research studies show that meaningful social connections can reduce the risk of disability by up to 34%. Along with exercise and diet, social interaction is an important piece of the puzzle to keep us healthier as we age.
COVID has changed communities in surprising ways. The distance from parents and the lack of ability to travel easily was stressful, but I found my parents were supported by a wonderful community that they had built in the past 20+ years! Plus, more older adults got online, and got savvy with Zoom, and messaging apps like SMS/WhatsApp/Signal etc. Neighborhoods banded together to help at-risk citizens do groceries, or drop off food for those that were sick, and as a result we all got to know our older neighbors better!
The Mivera Way
At Mivera we really thought about these four things when building our platform. We wanted to make it simpler to care remotely.
We want you to think of Mivera like a trustworthy and friendly neighbor of your parents.
If they need help, Mivera will contact the circle to get your parents the support they need.
remind your parents about something, like taking their blood pressure medications,
find ways to get your parents to engage with the circle, encouraging them to exercise together or participate in local volunteer activities.
help you find the best care resources for your parent’s day-to-day needs
Interested in giving it a try ? Click the “Sign Up” button! We are running a free beta right now!
As our beta gains traction, we need your support to build our team to do all the wonderful engineering we need to do to curate the resources and connect the right resources to your parents at the right time.