senior woman waving to video call

Long-Distance Family Relationships

As seniors contemplate moving to a retirement community, one of the big questions can be whether to stay in the city they call home or move closer to their children or other family members. Each option has its advantages, but there may be a way to enjoy the benefits of staying in a familiar setting and the pleasure of a vital, loving connection with out-of-town family members. Here are some tips for maintaining strong long-distance family relationships.

Should You Stay or Should You Go?

Of course your family is important to you, and being part of your loved ones’ lives gives you a sense of belonging and purpose. But even if your family has moved away, there can be good reasons for you to stay in the city you know and love:

  • Access to tried-and-true health care. You likely have an established and trusted relationship with a doctor, dentist and other medical professionals. Research suggests that continuity of care – seeing the same doctor over time – has health benefits for patients. 
  • Your friends are here. You’ve probably built a lifetime’s worth of social connections here. Leaving that network of friends can put pressure on your relationships with the children and family you choose to move closer to.
  • You know the lay of the land. You know where to go to get the best brisket in town and the easiest route to the shopping mall. Plus, there’s a lot to like about where you live;  when you need a change of scene, you can visit your far-flung family.
  • Boundaries remain clear. Moving to be near family can force you and your loved ones to settle difficult questions about how much time you’re going to spend together and how much babysitting you’re going to do. Honest conversation can help settle these questions, but if you’re contemplating a move, it can be a good idea to have these discussions before you pull up stakes.
  • Things change. Your kids may live 1,000 miles away now, but that doesn’t mean they’ll stay put. Job and family changes may require them to relocate. Plus grandkids grow up, and you may not see as much of them when they get to their teenage years or if they leave home for college.

Keeping Long-Distance Family Ties Strong

Being a close-knit family isn’t about proximity. It’s about maintaining a strong emotional connection and staying involved in each other’s daily lives. There are lots of ways to stay connected even if you live on the other side of the country. Here’s how:

  • Make technology an ally. Group chats allow you to text multiple family members at once, offering an easy way to keep up to speed with loved ones. Video chat or video conferencing platforms mean you can talk face-to-face with multiple family members at once even if oceans separate you. Don’t  forget that a picture is worth 1,000 words and technology makes it easier than ever to snap and share photos.
  • Practice active listening. Paying attention is an act of love, so when you get a chance to talk to faraway family members, make sure you set aside distractions and really listen.
  • Revive the lost art of letter writing. Because you can share more of yourself in a letter than you can in a text, writing letters can deepen and strengthen relationships. Writing can also sharpen your mind, allow for creative expression and offer a much-needed break from screen time. Plus sending and receiving mail is fun!
  • Commemorate the big moments. Helping loved ones celebrate special occasions with cards, care packages or even GIFs can strengthen your relationship. Keep track of important dates with an online calendar or get a perpetual calendar for a low-tech alternative.
  • Cultivate common ground. Shared interests promote communication and connection. Technology can help you keep up with each other’s latest experiences. Sites like Goodreads or apps like Untappd can be a fun way to track the books you’ve read or the beers you’ve sampled, and share your latest finds with friends and family. Or game together with multiplayer online games like Words with Friends, Golf with Your Friends, or Minecraft.

The Comforts of Home

Residents of Canterbury Court can flourish in Atlanta’s original Life Plan Community located in the heart of Buckhead. Here, the maintenance-free lifestyle means you have plenty of time to enjoy new friends within the community and to keep long-distance family relationships strong and vital. And with our continuum of care, you know that even if family members aren’t nearby, the care you need is available should your health change. Contact us to learn more about independent living and the continuum of care available at Canterbury Court.