I have some experience myself recently in this area, so I feel that I
am qualified to give you advice on your question.
First of all, in life there are no guarantees. If you play it by the
odds, yes, your father is the oldest person in your family and would
seem to be nearer the end of his life than others in your family. But,
if you play it by reality, you could die five years from now while
your dad is 93 and still doing fine. You need to live your own life;
if your dad is 88 and you're 40, your dad was 48 years old when you
were born. That is close to your age and just as your father did, it
is time for you to accomplish what you know you must do. If you want
to have a marriage and family, and you don't like the women in Tampa
or the atmosphere there as much as DC, you will not be able to
accomplish your goals and dreams as well as you would in DC.
As you say, the job market in Tampa is not as good for your line of
work as it is in DC, so if you stay where you are you will probably
still be consulting just as you are now and traveling during the week.
If you're traveling during the week and only see your parents on
weekends anyway, it is JUST THE SAME as if you lived in DC and visited
them on weekends. Meanwhile, you can enjoy yourself in the capital
during the week and enjoy your job and your new life. It seems that
you are really trying to convince yourself not to make this move, and
perhaps it is for another reason besides your parents, since in fact
you will be seeing them just as much as you are now.
What will you gain for yourself if you remain in Tampa? Peace of mind?
Contentment in being around your father? I suspect that things will
not change from how they have been before for you in Tampa--
dissatisfied with your job, worried about your parents, wondering how
you can meet someone you're compatible with. There is a reason that
you came up with this idea to move. If you stay in Tampa, you will
still be filled with this longing to move to DC. It will not suddenly
go away. Someday, you may look back and regret not taking that chance.
If you move to DC and things are just absolutely unbearable and you
miss your parents so much that you want to move back, that's perfectly
fine and you can move back knowing that at least you took the chance.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say. You have to follow your
heart and find it in yourself to actually do what you know you must.
Now you may be fretting over this decision, but once you have actually
had the courage to make this move, are ensconced in a great job and
have a new neighborhood and atmosphere, you will start to become more
and more involved with what Washington, DC has to offer and make your
own life. I'm not saying that you'll forget your parents by any means.
But, at this point they seem to be a central focus in your life. They
could still be a central focus in your DC life, but you will start to
live your own life and have your own concerns away from your parents.
You won't forget them, but as you focus on other things you will be
able to relax more about your parents' situation, just do all you can
for them, and know that what happens happens. You'll always have those
weekends in Tampa to look forward to, and Tampa is thankfully not on
the other side of the world. Get yourself involved in activities in DC
that you find enjoyable and make new friends. This is a fabulous
opportunity that you have and it is one of the most exciting things
someone can do, to move to a new place.
Over time, you may want to visit your parents not every weekend, but
every other weekend, and then perhaps once a month, rather than every
weekend. As you get more entrenched in DC, you'll have friends and
activities and perhaps a special girl there that you might want to
spend time with. This would not be abandoning your parents and you
shouldn't feel guilty about it. THEY WANT YOU TO LIVE YOUR OWN LIFE
and you need to want that, too. As you said, you want to feel like
part of a community. This is definitely your chance. Find your niche
in DC and revel in it. Enjoy it.
What does your father want for you? I'm sure he wants you to be happy
and fulfil your dreams. Have you talked to him about this move
specifically? If you haven't, maybe you should and get his perspective
on things. When he and your mother came to America, they left behind
all that they knew and all the relatives they had and the lives they
had previously lived to make a better life in America for you and your
brother. You admire him for this and call him your hero. Now, it is
time for you to make a similar decision, emulate your father and his
move and become the hero of your own life.
I'm sure that your father would not think that you are abandoning him.
You are not abandoning an old life, you are simply starting a new one
and including the best aspects of the old, such as your father. When
you tell him of about how much you enjoy your job, and the women
you've met, he'll enjoy the tales and it will help him to be proud of
you and know you made the right decision.
Something I noticed, reading over your question, is that you seem to
be a bit critical of your mother at times in regards to how she treats
your father. You obviously know more about the situation than I do,
but the fact is that your parents are your parents. You only have one
life. Don't blame your mother for not taking better care of your
father. You are very protective of him and perhaps that is what is
making you see this. See her with a more objective eye and ask
yourself if she is really mistreating him. She is getting on in years
as well and probably has her own health problems. Perhaps she is not
used to seeing your father needing so much assistance, and maybe in
years past he took pride in doing everything himself, so she respected
his wishes. There are a million different explanations for this. I
doubt that she has a malicious intent or purposely seeks to make him
suffer. If he loves her desperately, as you say, it is enough for him
that she is around for companionship.
Another option that no one has mentioned but that may be a
possibility, even if distant, is that your parents could move to
Washington, DC with you. Since you didn't mention this at all, your
parents probably enjoy the weather or being next to your brother and
his child or having their friends around. This is understandable--
but if you are really settled and happy in DC, wouldn't it be possible
for them to move there with you later?
I would recommend a number of things in order for you to stay in
touch. You have already made big strides with Google Talk-- I have
tried to teach an older person to use a chat program and they do not
usually think it's as simple as it seems to us. Your father is at
least a bit technologically capable, which is impressive, and I assume
has a computer, which will come in very handy.
I recommend that you and your parents get VOIP if you don't already
have it. On top of that, I recommend Lingo. With this, you don't have
to worry about long distance phone bills, because unlimited nationwide
calling (and even to Europe and other parts of the world) are included
for one low monthly price (compared to regular telephone service).
This is not just a sales pitch for VOIP; I'm serious. People of an
older generation are used to long distance calls costing so much that
they may be hesitant to talk to you for too long on the phone. Having
unlimited long distance should put their mind at ease and help you be
able to talk to them more.
I also would advise you to videotape or audio-record all those
fascinating stories your mom and dad must have-- you know what I'm
talking about. The stories that they tell everyone at holidays,
perhaps of how they traveled to this country and what times were like
back in the old country. These stories are part of your history and
need to be recorded. You can listen to them or watch them while you're
in Washington, DC and by learning about and preserving their past, you
might feel better about your own present. You will be SO GLAD that you
did this in the future, and your children and grandchildren will
appreciate your efforts as well. There is no excuse not to do this--
if you don't have a camcorder, you say that you like to spoil them by
buying them lavish gifts; now is the time to buy them or you a
camcorder. It's also a way to take videos of your niece and the rest
of your family, as well. Out of all the elderly relatives I have known
and who have died, only one of them ever did this and that's a shame.
As some people have said, a live-in caregiver could provide a workable
solution for helping you to ensure that your parents get the level of
care that you would offer to them. He/she could help your father get
to his doctor's appointments and back. My parents chose this solution
for my grandmother. In fact, one of the people that they chose as her
caregiver became one of my mother's very best friends. Many people
might warn you against having a "stranger" in the house... and, while
you do need to take precautions, think of this as an opportunity, not
a crisis. If you get the right person, your parents' lives might be
much happier and healthier. My mother and her mother's caregiver are
still the very best of friends 15 years later. This caregiver made my
grandmother's life so much better and they became good friends. Your
parents might need companionship, as well. Hospitals have lists of
live-in aides that they can provide you with. Make sure to get
references-- I would say this is the most important part, besides
anything else. Some people want someone to be certified in CPR or have
some kind of LPN or nurse's license, but I think that that is not
necessary as long as the person you choose comes with good references
and is well-qualified for the job otherwise.
Keep in mind that if you have a helper, they will be taking care of
BOTH your parents and you should consider this when deciding how many
hours they should work or how many to hire. You may want two people at
a time or you may wish to tell them that they don't have to spend as
much time taking care of your mother if she doesn't need it, or that
they don't have to take care of her at all. If this is the case, you
may want to emphasize to your mother that the helper is there to help
your father and for no other reason. I have heard of older people
misunderstanding and treating these types of helpers as maids, when
they are not that at all.
Here are some tips on how to hire an in-home caregiver:
--Check to see if their GM insurance or Medicare, etc. will pay any of
--Contact the local hospital's check-out clerk, who should keep a list
of available caregivers in the area.
-- You could contact a reputable, recommended homecare agency, or
someone who works on their own
--Try to do a background check, if possible.
--See how the caregiver gets along with your parents.
--Once you've found someone, make a contract/agreement with them over
what exactly they will do-- how long they'll work, how much they'll
get paid, any extras they may have to do such as doctors' visits, what
they should do as far as housework or cleaning.
--Once you find a good caregiver that your parents enjoy spending time
with, don't be stingy. Give them raises after a year or two and do
what it takes to keep them happy and staying with your parents.
--make sure there's an alternate in place in case your caregiver gets
sick or has something she must do.
Hopefully, your brother will be able to check in on your parents if
they are in this situation and see how things are going with the
caregiver and if things are working out. It might help you to be
involved in this process, so when you decide to move and set a date,
you could start interviewing candidates for the helper position and
find someone you really trust to leave your parents with. Being
involved in the process might help you deal with the situation better.
There are also people called geriatric care managers, who would come
to your parents' house, meet them and assess their needs and make a
recommendation on what type of care they would need-- be it a live-in
helper or professional care. It could be something worth looking into.
You can find a list or read more about them at the National
Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers' website here:
The AARP also provides recommendations on geriatric managers and other
information for families at this website:
You say that your brother is the distant one in the family-- but he
does live only a few doors down from them. This says a lot. Everyone
has a different type of personality. I'm sure that he wants to take
just as good of care of your parents as you wish to. They will be more
dependent on him with you gone. Have a frank discussion with your
brother about this, and ask him to keep you fully updated on them. He
might even grow closer to your father and mother in the process, which
would make them all happy.
Do your parents know their neighbors? If not, it might be time to go
over and introduce yourself and explain the situation so the neighbors
can keep a look out for things. If they see that one of your parents
usually goes outside and gets the mail at a certain time, and they
haven't been out in a few days, it could be good to have some
concerned neighbors who might contact you in the event of any
troubling signs or events. You could even arrange for some neighbors
to stop in on them every once in a while and check to see how they're
"Caring for Elderly Loved Ones From Afar"
"Develop an informal network. Experts say adult children should
establish an informal support network composed of family, neighbors,
friends, clergy, and others who might help. Adult children, when
visiting their parents or older family members, should introduce
themselves to neighbors and friends and keep their phone numbers and
addresses handy. If an adult child can't reach a parent, calling that
informal network can provide peace of mind. Plus, they may also be
able to help with some needed tasks."
I have another suggestion to offer you-- one that might help you feel
closer to your father and help you make this transition to another
city easier for both of you. Telemedicine could help you take care of
your parents from a distance. This type of monitoring goes by many
names, such as telemedicine, elderly monitoring, remote monitoring.
There are many different forms of it.
Here is a previous Google Answer I completed which describes some
systems and studies in detail:
"Wireless Monitoring of Homecare Patients"
Here is an example of what these systems can do:
"Around 9:00 a.m., a prompt appears across the TV screen reminding
Carol to take her blood pressure, which she does with a
wireless-enabled blood pressure cuff that is sitting next to her easy
chair in the den. Each morning around 10:00 a.m., Michelle, Carol?s
daughter, receives a text message on her cell phone that says ?Mom?s
okay? ? meaning that systems throughout her mother's home were able to
determine that she got out of bed, she used the bathroom, her weight
had not dramatically shifted, she took her pills correctly, the gas on
the stove is off, and her blood pressure is stable."
If your mom and dad have medicines that they must take on a daily
basis, there can be monitors on the pills to see whether they've taken
them today, or reminders flashed on their television screen to tell
them to take those pills. It is truly amazing what some of these
systems can do, and the technology is constantly improving.
Here is a project from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
called the Assisted Living Project, and what it says that this
environment could do.
"Suppose such an assisted living environment were deployed in Walter's
house. Every morning Walter wakes up, has breakfast, takes his
medicine, takes a walk around the park, and returns home to work on
his novel. The RFID readers installed in the house, along with the
RFID tags attached on the various appliances/belongings, note when he
exits his house, when he takes his medicine, when he returns, and
which room he is in. The GPS chip knows the rate at which he walks
around the park. On that particular day, Walter tripped and fell
unconscious in his living room. He was alone. The RFID based
localization techniques localized he was near the living room door,
and that he was not moving for an unusually long time. A message
flashed on the TV asking whether to call for help and was not
answered. Within minutes, an ambulance arrived at his door and his son
was notified of this critical event. Walter was treated and returned
to his regular routine the next morning. From an economic perspective,
such a networked assisted living environment represents a major
potential saving in the financial drain of senior care (e.g., the
manpower, money, and efforts taken to care for elderly people who are
in fact capable of living independently with modest assistance). From
a social perspective, a networked assisted living environment
increases not only the ability to live independently, but also
individual empowerment and the ability to communicate with family,
friends, and health care professionals."
There are too many different variants on these systems to list them
all, but there are basically two types of systems available on the
1. Monitors to measure blood pressure, vital signs, weight, and things
of that nature. There are many, many different companies which market
these items and they can even be found at CVS pharmacies. You can set
up the system so that they can even have doctor's visits from home and
have doctors check up on them if something goes wrong, such as your
dad losing weight or some other sign that something is amiss.
2. Monitors which use RFID or GPS technology to measure where exactly
your parents are in the house, whether they've taken their meds or
eaten and what time they got up-- and if something such as a fall
happens. There are only four monitors of this type on the market right
now, and two are brand-new systems. The makers are QuietCare,
HealthSense, Lusora and GrandCare. You can see my in-depth reviews of
these first three systems in the Google Answer that I linked to above.
QuietCare has alerts and web-based reports that you would be able to
check from a distance. These three systems also include Lifeline-style
pendants in case one of them is in need of assistance. (Lifeline is
also a very good system to look into if your parents don't already
GrandCare is also an interesting service.
"GrandCare was created to help seniors remain safe and independent in
their homes without feeling lonely or isolated. Concerned friends and
relatives can check on their well-being by logging in to
www.grandcare.com and viewing data obtained from wireless sensors
around the home. They can also be alerted by phone, pager or email
when unusual conditions occur.
Meanwhile, friends, family and caregivers can help a loved one stay up
to date by loggin in the grandcare website and sending pictures,
instant messages, emails, calendar appointments and more directly to
the senior's television screen. Family Members can coordinate
schedules with each other and their loved one using the GrandCare
Overall, these systems are brand new and the technology is getting
better all the time. I don't see how you can go wrong with one of
these systems. You'll have piece of mind for when they are alone, and
just in general you can feel better knowing what they're up to and
what they're doing in the day. I highly recommend this for you and
How do your parents eat? Do they cook for themselves? You could hire
someone to come in once a week and cook a week's worth of meals, to be
frozen and eaten during the week, to make sure they're eating well. If
you hire a caregiver, you could pay her/him to cook for them as well.
You could sign up with a service for the elderly which provides
nutritious meals for them.
What do they do for social activities? Do they have a church or play
bridge or do anything else that is a social activity? It could help
the transition to get them more involved in activities in the
community (and it very well might keep them young and maybe even busy
enough to not drink as much.) It sounds like a weird place, but adult
daycare centers are actually supposed to be very helpful, social and
fun places, and often have long waiting lists. They could try it and
see if they like it and could maybe go a few days a week. It is
important to keep older people active and engaged in activities that
they enjoy, to keep their minds healthy. Chatting with you on Google
Talk could be such an activity!
It's also a good idea to become well-acquainted with your parents'
doctors. In case anything should happen, you can then feel safe in
calling the doctor and hearing what is wrong from the source. You say
that your parents' doctors are useless. If this is the case, you need
to find them some good doctors, preferably ones that specialize in
geriatrics (or any specific problem they might suffer from that you
didn't mention here). You need to put them in the hands of
knowledgeable professionals who care about helping them. If you know
any older people around or if there is a senior center in their area,
give them a call and ask for a recommendation of a worthwhile doctor.
You could also find doctors that are willing to participate in a
telemonitoring system such as those described above.
Here is an organization, the National Family Caregivers Association,
which is located close to Washington, DC and could be a good
organization for you to join or look into.
Here are some other websites which could provide helpful information for you.
Children of Aging Parents
Aging Parents and Adult Children Together
Some books that might be helpful:
"How to Care for Aging Parents"
by Virginia Morris and Robert Butler
"Caregivers and Personal Assistants: How to Find, Hire and Manage the
People Who Help You (Or Your Loved One!)"
by Alfred H. Degraff
As you said, you want to be able to take care of them when they're
sick, just as you did last week with your mother. According to the
Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, if you work for a company with
more than 50 employees, you have the right to take off up to 12 weeks
of medical leave per year without the threat of losing your job. This
can include time for taking care of aging parents. This could be a
comfort to you, knowing that the option is at least available to you
in case something does happen.
There are many, many, many things you can do for them, even from
Washington, DC. You can bake them goodies and send them in the mail.
You can write them letters.
Most importantly, you can live your own life and let them know how
much you enjoy living in this new city. You can make them proud by
doing well at your job and accomplishing your other goals in life.
Whatever reasons you would have for staying in Tampa can all be done
in DC as well. You want the pleasure of your father's company? Well,
you have already taught him to use Google Talk and you can talk to him
on the phone as much as you like as well. You want peace of mind that
your parents have the best care? You can get to know their doctors and
call them up after your parents have appointments. You can talk to
your brother and his wife about how they're doing. If you choose one
of the remote monitoring systems that I detailed above, you can go to
a website every morning (and night) and see what they're up to. In
this day and age, technology can bring people together in ways that
have not been previously possible. The distance from Washington, DC to
Tampa, Florida is not that far at all in today's world.
Mary Beth Franklin "Caring Across The Miles - resources for
long-distance care of elderly parents". Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Magazine. Nov 2000. FindArticles.com. 20 Sep. 2006.
"Help for the long-distance caregiver"
US Department of State
"Caring for Elderly Parents"
Los Angeles Daily News
"Caring for the elderly from a distance"
By Diana McKeon Charkalis, Lifestyle Editor
Encyclopedia of Everyday Law
"Family and Medical Leave Act"
"How to Hire In-Home Caregivers"
elderly parents long distance
national family caregivers association
children of aging parents
site:amazon.com aging parents
family and medical leave act elderly parents
hire caregiver elderly
If you need any help or any additional clarification, do not hesitate
to ask me with the "request for clarification" feature. I'll help you
all I can. I wish you the best!