In a perfect world, you could visit loved ones anytime with ease. Keeping in touch would be as simple as inviting them to dinner or going to a show together. Unfortunately, many people find themselves separated from their loved ones by distance. The desire to see someone in person is often out of the question.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- How to Show a Sick Loved One You Care From Afar
- How to Show a Lonely Loved One That You Care From Afar
- How to Show an Aging Loved One That You Care from Afar
This guide will help you get around the distance barrier. You may have miles between you, but that doesn’t have to get in the way of having a loving relationship.
The following ideas show you creative ways to show your concern from afar, especially for loved ones who may be sick, lonely, or aging. This list is just the beginning. Use these as a starting place for creating some long-distance traditions.
How to Show a Sick Loved One You Care from Afar
Distance doesn’t have to keep you from helping your loved one when they’re not feeling well. Share your get well wishes with these tips.
1. Order food for them
A bowl of homemade chicken soup is a comforting treatment for a person feeling under the weather. But how can you do this from afar? If your loved one is in an area with food delivery services, find out what restaurants are nearby. Call the restaurant directly, or use an app like DoorDash, Uber Eats, or GrubHub to order delivery for them.
Another option is to order groceries to be delivered to your loved one’s door. Choose foods they can eat with little preparation like crackers, canned soup, and fresh fruit or vegetables. Whether you order restaurant food or groceries, call ahead with your offer. Ask what they need and when to have it delivered.
2. Send a get well gift or care package
A get well gift or care package is best sent ahead of time. Shipping may not always be quick enough to help someone when they need it the most. Gather a few things you know your loved one likes when they aren’t feeling well.
Pick a comforting beverage like tea or hot chocolate, and send a small box of it. Choose a small paperback book or a gift card for digital material like ebooks, podcasts, or games. Include non-perishable food like instant soup, crackers, and hard candies. A sleeping mask and a small, microwavable heat pack can also work wonders as well.
You want your loved one to feel comforted when they feel sick, even when you can’t be there.
3. Read aloud to them
Some people like being read to. If your loved one likes audiobooks or listens to podcasts, they might enjoy hearing your voice for a change. Also, there’s something comforting about sitting back and letting someone tell you a story. This can be soothing, especially with a familiar voice.
You can make recordings or do it live via a phone call or video chat. This can be an interesting way for you to learn about topics they enjoy and books they like. The options could range from non-fiction science to fantasy novels. Use your library or your favorite digital media service for access to books of all kinds.
4. Send them something to make them smile or laugh
Being sick can get boring. Cheer up your loved one with a funny gift you know they‘ll enjoy. Pick a book from the humor section that fits their interests. Send a swear word coloring book. Make an effort to find funny online videos you think they’d get a giggle over. Save your favorite jokes and funny stories and either email or snail mail them.
Feeling creative? Make a video of yourself and other people they know. Have everyone give personal greetings or tell a silly joke. Just seeing familiar faces will make your loved one feel a little better right away.
How to Show a Lonely Loved One That You Care from Afar
Loneliness can weigh heavily on a person. Lift your loved one’s spirits by trying a few of these ideas.
5. Call or reach out in the evening
The evening can be a difficult time for people who live on their own or don’t socialize much. Feelings of anxiety or depression can get worse at night. Loneliness and a low mood can also make sleeping difficult.
Daytime activity can distract a person from their feelings of loneliness at times. However, when they sit down for the evening with little to do and nobody to talk to, sadness can start to creep in. A call or encouraging message after their evening meal can boost your loved one’s mood when they need it most.
6. Schedule time to reach out
Plan a time to talk to your loved one. Ask how often they’d like to hear from you and put it in your calendar. Also, ask if they like phone calls or if they’d rather get something in the mail or email.
Why is it important to schedule this? Because people who feel lonely can often go long periods of time without much social activity. They might talk with cashiers or coworkers. But they likely spend a lot of time on their own.
Scheduled phone calls or video chats can give your loved one something positive to look forward to. Regular contact like this may build more optimism in their daily life.
7. Send a comfort item
Loneliness can surround a person when life gets difficult. For many people, a hug can be comforting. When you can't be there to hug your loved one in person, a comfort item can help.
Send your loved one a soft or fuzzy item like a blanket, scarf, or pillow. They can keep this comforting reminder in their bedroom or living area. If you like to do crafts, it can be a perfect thing to make yourself. If not, find a place nearby to help make a custom item. Or enjoy the experience of shopping for something you know they'll like.
8. Watch a show or sporting event together
This idea can be great for someone who likes to text or send messages via social media. Watch a TV show together in its usual time slot or set a time together to start a new series. Share your must-see TV programs and text back and forth with the plot twists and the jokes.
This also works well for sporting events. Complaining about turnovers and celebrating scores can be fun even when you’re apart.
You can also binge on your favorite streaming TV show together. Many services have methods for watching shows or movies on different screens at the same time. Have a Skype session or text to have some social time as you watch.
How to Show an Aging Loved One That You Care from Afar
Distance doesn’t have to separate you from an aging loved one. Stay connected across the miles with some of these tried and true methods.
9. Write letters to each other
Older people are used to sending letters and postcards for long-distance communication. You can do the same and create a written record of your conversations. Letters can often become unique keepsakes for both of you.
Unfortunately, writing can be difficult for some older people. If your loved one can't write well anymore, have them dictate a letter instead. See if they have a neighbor or caregiver that would help with this. Or you can call them on the phone if their hearing is good enough.
Whatever method you choose, set up a plan to keep the communication going long term. This gives you and your loved one something to look forward to.
10. Plan a visit for the future
Nothing beats a visit in person. Depending on the distance between you, this may not happen often. Plan a visit anyway and make it worth the wait. Before planning your trip, consider their health and living arrangements.
Are they able to host you as a guest during the day? Do they live in their own home or a care facility like a nursing home? Think of some things to do outside as well as spending time at their home. Consider spending time with their friends, neighbors, and other people in their life.
11. Send a thoughtful gift
Think about how your loved one likes to spend time. Do they have hobbies? Take care of a garden? Do they still have skills from their former profession they like to use? These questions can help you think of ideas for a thoughtful gift.
When you can't be there in person, a thoughtful gift makes an instant impression. Your loved one knows that you really know them. You took the time, so it's something that really matters. Your gift can also be a reason to have more conversations.
12. Connect with a neighbor or nearby family member
Find out who lives near your loved one. Is there a family member in the area? Are they friendly with a few neighbors? Reach out and introduce yourself online. Let them know you'd like to stay in touch about how your loved one is doing.
Doing this gives you eyes and ears very close by. It's great to have conversations with your loved one, but you may not get the whole story. You might hear that they get along just fine at home. A neighbor or family member can tell you if they start to struggle.
Stay Connected to Loved Ones From Afar
You miss your loved ones when distance comes between you. But with a little effort and creativity, you can still feel close.
Make memories and show them you care no matter how far apart you are. Sending gifts or planning time can be just a few options available when you want to make someone feel loved.
If you're looking for more ways you can care for someone from far away, read our article on care package ideas for older adults during COVID-19.