How to Help your Aging Parent

By Dr. Marion Somers, Ph. D., Elder Health Resources of America, Inc.

As our parents change, we need to step in and help them in ways that are supportive but not intrusive. In my book ?Elder Care Made Easier,? I discuss various warning signs that can alert you for any difficulties your parents may be having. It's important to make sure that our parents are safe, physically, financially, and emotionally.

There is no special or specific age for when someone cannot be on his or her own. We need to be vigilant to make sure that our seniors are eating well, taking proper care of themselves, staying on top of their medications, and keeping all medical appointments. It's also important that their home environment is clean and safe and that they have a social support system. These are ideals that we all need to strive for.

The time to take action is when you see changes, no matter how subtle. Is the mail going unopened for days? Are bills being ignored? Is your parent declining to answer the phone or stay in touch with family and friends? You also need to step back and take a hard look at your parent's environment. Consider how you can make things safer, brighter, and cleaner given your time and finances. I'm talking about a wide range of things including: Are the locks adequate and working? Is the electricity and all of the lighting fixtures and appliances in working order? Is the exterior of the home and grounds kept up? Are your parents worried about getting adequate food and nourishment? Are they taking their medications and going to medical appointments? Are they getting exercise?

When you have done everything within your power, and it's obvious that it's not enough, it's time to reevaluate the situation and explore other housing options. It's crucial that you include your parent(s) in the decision making process each step of the way if possible. Open communication is invaluable. Be aware of the options that are available such as: moving in with you or another family member, moving to a smaller apartment/living space closer to you, retirement homes, assisted living facilities, and nursing facilities.

Doctor Marion provides expert advice on the AGIS website. Click here to see her other advice.

©2008 Elder Health Resources of America, Inc.


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