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Research: We're All Worried About Our Older Parents. What's the Solution? 

Americans begin to worry about their parents' safety and well-being when they reach the age of 67, on average—and we worry a great deal, according to new research.

An study of 2,000 US adults with parents aged over 60 reveals that on average, we worry about our parents five times a week. 86 percent of us feel that we're frequently worried about them.

The solution, most agree, is to check in with them more often. Yet, nine-tenths of respondents say that their parents live independently (88 percent) or in assisted living (3 percent). That makes it harder to connect in person, especially with new social distancing requirements.

However, new technology is helping families to bridge the gap and stay connected.

Here's everything that we discovered.

1: Worries about older parents are widespread and frequent.

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On average, we start worrying about our parents when they turn 67, and we worry about them five times a week.

Our most common concerns are their health, physical distance, vulnerability to crime, and the fear that they'll suffer problems in silence.

The top five worries about parents aged 60 and older:

  • Physical health and wellbeing (44%)
  • Living too far away for us to help them in an emergency (36%)
  • Mental and emotional wellbeing (36%)
  • They'll experience a problem but won't let us know (33%)
  • Being vulnerable to crime in their home (32%)

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2: We check in with our parents regularly. It doesn't feel like enough.

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Most of us (69 percent) feel that we do a good job of staying connected with older parents. On average, we check in with them five times a week. And yet, our worries persist.

Seventy-one percent of us think that we'd worry less if we checked in with our parents more often. Seventy-three percent say that it would make our parents feel safer too.

How do Americans with parents over 60 check-in with their parents?

  • 52 percent use phone calls to connect with parents.
  • 48 percent check-in by visiting in person.
  • 42 percent use video calling apps.
  • 26 percent use email.
  • 40 percent let other family members know how parents are doing.
  • 37 percent say their family has a system or routine for checking in.

3: Modern life makes it hard to stay connected.

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71 percent of us say that we don't visit our parents as often as we'd like to, and we often encounter challenges in connecting virtually--even though we understand that our peace of mind would benefit.

On average, we'd like to spend 27 minutes a day checking in with our parents if we could. So what gets in the way?

The top five obstacles to checking in with older parents:

  • Work keeps me too busy (33%)
  • We live too far away (33%)
  • My own family keeps me too busy (28%)
  • My parents don't like new technology (26%)
  • My parents are bad at answering the phone (25%)

No wonder that 72% of respondents said that they wish there was a way to check in on their parents quickly, without having a phone conversation.

4: New technology is making a difference.

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The silver lining is that most older parents are open to using new technology to stay connected.

Video calling technology, including apps like FaceTime, and cameras with two-way voice calling, have become a popular way for families to check-in and catch up.

How has new technology helped Americans with parents over 60 stay connected?

  • 79 percent say mobile technology has made it easier to connect with their parents.
  • 72 percent say video calling has made it easier to connect with their parents.
  • 71 percent wish it were even easier to video-chat with their parents.
  • 67 percent say their parents would be comfortable with a video camera in their home to help them check-in.
  • 70% say that they have a stronger relationship with their parents thanks to technology.

If you're struggling to stay connected to an older parent as social distancing continues, we hope that you'll explore and discover new ways to check-in and connect with them.

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