As the computer geek of the family (a family I hasten to add with three computer degrees, four people in IT deparments as well an accountancy degree and a Chief Engineer - not including me!), I often get asked to help out. Sometimes, after much nagging, I sometimes actually help. Well, in order to save a round-trip to the Isle of Skye (10 hours drive) or north of Aberdeen (a three hour round trip), I had these folks log into the LogMeIn, an online remote control system. Which seems to work really well, especially if you can pursuade the aforemented degree-led family members to actually remember things like passwords... ;-)
Saved me a bunch of pain this holiday, and I'm sure it'll save you too. Mac and Windows version are available, and the basic version is free. Cant do better than that, can we?
Oh, and without sounding like a complete Mac Fanboy (Sorry Eddie!), if a family member askes which PC they should buy, point them to their nearest Applestore. Tell em to get the premier genius bar black card, and get as much training as they like for free. And then you dont have to support them in the first place!