Seeking Advice on caring at a distance

Seeking Advice on caring at a distance. My father in law lives 2.5 hours away, and we do all the caring once a fortnight. I phone him every day. This makes it hard for daily tasks. A neighbour pops in sometimes. The local authority don’t deem him necessary for help. And he doesn’t want anyone else coming in. We would be happy for him to live with us, but he doesn’t want to leave his home. It’s even harder with my mum who lives in Spain and cares for her husband with Parkinson’s, and again won’t leave her home. Feeling very helpless, but don’t know what else we can do! Thanks.

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Hi Yvonne,

Welcome to the forum. I’m glad you’re reaching out. It must feel frustrating as well.
There’s a wealth of experience and support I’m sure we can offer ideas.

For my part, most of my adult life my Dad had varying levels of ill health due to his heart conditions and rheumatoid arthritis. He had a major hospitalization event in 2015 that triggered a steep decline. At that time I was living in London, and moving to Brussels for a new job - 1 of many moves I did for work. So I can offer various thoughts on caring at a distance. I resigned & moved back to Edinburgh to look after my parents and now I care for Mum in her home.

Could you tell us a little more about your Father in law, his ability to get around and general health, and your concerns? the same for your Mum?
Have you managed to have a discussion to identify what each of them wishes and wants beyond ‘not wanting to leave their home’?
The first conversations about their wishes and your concerns are always difficult, charged with emotion and generally awkward but sometimes it can bring a small step in the right direction. E.g. we got Mum some help doing cleaning, and so she could go out to get shopping …that’s how we sold Dad on respite for Mum and someone to watch/get tea for Dad for an hour…that was our first little step…
It’s lovely that you’re thinking you could have him live with you…that’s a big decision and move for all of you!
If you don’t mind sharing a little more or have questions that’d be great…
my initial recommendation is small, gentle conversations to start shifting the dialogue and mutual understanding/agreements…and in turn, hopefully, that leads to opening them up to possible opportunities, to add in more support

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Hi Yvonne,
welcome to the forum.

What sort of things do you do for your FIL when you visit? Phoning every day is a lot!

Re your Mum, probably the best thing you can do is to visit once in awhile and take over her husband’s care to give her a break.

As Victoria says, it’ll be easier to make suggestions, with a bit information.


Yvonne. Welcome to the forum and well done for posting.

Can’t really offer much advice - I had POA for my Dad who lived an hour away from us but he was in a retirement village so care could be provided should he need it.

Just know that there is support available on here whenever you need it. We know what it feels like to need to sound off or need advice or information and don’t know where to turn. No-one preaches at anyone and we can empathise.


No advice but you are in my prayers. Good luck.

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Thank you everyone for your kindness and honesty. My father in law lives in London and we are in Dorset. My husband does his shopping once a fortnight, cleans the house, does the washing, pays his bills, cuts his nails and takes him to his appointments (and does any maintenance needed on the house). When he can’t go, I can do it, but it’s a long way in the traffic and I have animals to look after (and we both work). And my spaniel doesn’t travel well. His dad doesn’t leave the house now and tells me everyday on the phone that he feels dizzy (we’ve told the doctor). But there is no-one there to makes sure he takes his medication everyday. I phone him every day because I worry about his lack of social contact. I notice when I don’t ring for a couple of days, he is more withdrawn and doesn’t want to speak as much. Thanks for listening! I’ll set up a separate thread for my Mum in Spain, as it’s a totally different situation for us! Thanks.


The major barrier here is your FIL not wanting help from anyone else, this is really common. However if he needs help, then this is something he’ll need to get over.

Did social care do a proper needs assessment and was you or your husband there, as old people often say they don’t need any help and are managing fine - when they aren’t.

Has your husband considered doing an online shop for him?

Has he applied for attendance allowance? This could pay for a cleaner /gardener. Not only would they be doing their job, it would be someone else for him to speak too and check on him.

Re his toenails - a chiropodist could do that and some do home visits. It needn’t be every fortnight - every 4 to 6 weeks should be fine.

With these things in place, you could reduce visits - though obviously that’s not how you sell the plan to him!!


Thanks for the suggestions. It’s also the guilt of not being there with him. But I like your idea of finding someone to go in and clean/garden, as it would be company for him. How do you find someone you trust though?


Recommendation is best, but tricky as you aren’t local. Carers Centre, local church, charities might be able to recommend.

I get what you are saying about the guilt - but he would actually have more company this way … and if you and husband were less stretched FIL would benefit too. Also he’d have more to chat about as he could regale you with tales of the gardener and cleaner did etc.

My Mum has a visiting hairdresser too. Not quite the same for a man but nevertheless another contact with the outside world, to break up his day a bit.

Would he go to a luncheon club, many have volunteers that act as a taxi service.


Hi @Yvonne_2206
Has the doctor diagnosed the cause of the dizziness & what’s FILs medication for? Are you thinking something is underlying the symptom?
Depending on which borough of London there are agencies who can offer ‘companion’ support at home, some local GP services are ‘integrated’ with community nurses…
I researched this a little for an 70+yrs of age cousin, husband and wife couple.
agencies elderly domiciliary care london - was the google search I did.
There are telephone call lines that he could call - I think Age UK has one but I haven’t tested it with a caree
Some London boroughs have day centres but most are for people who have significant health issues.
Some local community day centres could possibly offer more social connection for him, locally.

But as @Melly1 says getting a proper needs assessment done is important
It’s good to start with clear statement of his health if possible, so that you / social care / domiciliary agencies will know how he is.

My starting point with my elderly cousin was writing down the ‘transactional’ chores or things that would relieve effort & offer a first step of support in house…ie. finite actions e.g. lunch & pills
Pls note the needs assessment and onboarding someone into the routine can be stressful & time-consuming…it may require some upfront investment of your time to get things in place & running ok.
Hope that offers some more food for thought


Try keeping a diary.

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Thanks @Victoria_1806 your thoughts on this are much appreciated and have given me somewhere to start.


@Melly1 Thank you I appreciate your thoughts on this.