If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a 50-year-old American resident, and my parents, who are around 80, live in Ethiopia. My two siblings and I have all been out of the country since our college days, and I am starting to realize how sad it is that I haven’t been able to see my parents face to face very much since I was 18.
We are beginning to understand the significance of our physical absence and the impact it has had on our parents’ emotional and physical health. We enjoy our regular phone calls and occasional video chats, but we recognize the limitations of these interactions in truly understanding their needs and providing the support and care they may require. How can we provide them with the support, care and presence they need during this crucial stage of their lives and maintain a strong relationship to avoid regrets once they pass on? — Disconnected
DEAR DISCONNECTED: Often in families with multiple children, one adult child takes on the responsibility of looking out for the elders, particularly parents. This is common worldwide. While you and your siblings are thousands of miles away from your parents, nobody has taken on that role. You should talk together and figure out a way forward that allows for someone to spend physical time with your parents. Perhaps you can rotate among the three of you and have each one arrange an elongated stay in Ethiopia with them. If you could spend several months with them and divide that up over the year, your parents would have in-person care from family members. Yes, this may require a dramatic lifestyle change, but it sounds like they need that support now.
You can also arrange for local people to become caregivers for them, but that is not the same as your personal engagement with your parents. Do your best to be present as much as possible.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a hectic schedule, and it’s a constant struggle to stay organized and tidy. When I get home from work, I’m usually exhausted, and the last thing I want to do is clean. Instead, I usually plop on the couch, get a glass of wine and binge watch TV. Once the TV is on, I get drawn in, and I can’t seem to peel away to do housework. How can I manage my time effectively and keep my life in order when it’s so busy? — Seeking Balance and Order
DEAR SEEKING BALANCE AND ORDER: Write out a to-do list every day. On it include work responsibilities, home chores and personal tasks. List each thing individually so that you can easily check off tasks when completed. Be specific with what you have to do. For example, don’t write, “clean up,” as that doesn’t direct your steps. Instead, write, “wash the dishes,” “do the laundry,” “clean up the mud room,” etc. Whatever has to be completed, list that and don’t turn on the TV until you have checked everything off.