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Well, they call it Residency because one is supposed to be residing in the U.S. to maintain it.
Anyone that is a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) and is outside of the U.S. for 180 days or more within any 12 month period (not necessarily calendar year) creates a rebuttable presumption of abandonment of residency. That presumption can be rebutted by evidence to the contrary such as filing U.S. taxes, maintaining a home in the U.S. and paying that mortgage or rent, maintaining a U.S. drivers license, U.S. bank accounts with significant movement, etc.
Someone that has been outside of the U.S. for more than 1 year without first having an approved re-entry permit has abandoned their residency and only in very few exceptions (such as serious illness) can they get it back.
Here is an official link:
So really, they need to be spending more time in the U.S. than outside of the U.S. IF they cannot do it at this time, they can apply for a Re-Entry Permit on form I-131 which will allow them to stay out of the U.S. up to two years and not lose the Residency status. They can use it to come in and out of the U.S. during those 2 years. If they still need more time, they can get another one for 2 more years, but after that, they get harder and harder to get and they usually only give them for 1 year at a time. So sooner or later, then need to spent more time in the U.S. than outside of the U.S. Here is a link to the form:
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