Now it's your turn to keep them safe

Protecting Elderly Parents

by Pam Hutzler

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    Protecting Elderly Parents

    According to the MetLife Study of Caregiving Costs to Working Caregivers, there are nearly 10 million adult children over the age of 50 providing care for their aging parents. And as the Baby Boomer population ages, this number is likely to dramatically increase.

    We love our parents and want to see them well and happy, but sometimes it's hard to move from being the cared for to the caregiver. As time moves on, this is exactly what happens for many, and sometimes it can be a costly affair. So, how does one keep an elderly parent safe and secure while keeping the family budget intact? Here are a few simple tips that just may keep your elderly parent a little more healthy, safe, and protected.

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    See to Safety

    Falls are the number one cause of accidental death or injury for the elderly. Therefore, anything you can do to prevent a fall will go a long way to keeping mom or dad safe. A few simple things that you can do include removing throw rugs and keeping extension cords out of the way. Make sure all walkways are well-lit and clear of clutter.

    In the bathroom, safety should be a priority. Install grab bars by the tub and the toilet. (Also, it may be a good idea to put one near the bed.) A wise caregiver would ensure that a non-slip mat is used in the tub or shower at all times.

    Finally, making simple repairs around their home will help to keep your parent safe. For instance, fix wobbly hand rails and a broken step. Make sure that anything that could cause a slip or a fall is fixed. While at it, make sure smoke detectors have fresh batteries, fire extinguishers are in working order, and burned out light bulbs are changed to create the safest environment possible.

    Related: The Frugally Safe Home

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    Encourage Healthy Habits

    Simple strength and balance exercises greatly lessen the likelihood of falls. Therefore, encourage aging parents to seek out senior exercise classes. Often these classes can be found at senior centers and local park and recreation departments. As an added bonus, your aging parent will likely make new friends and increase their social circle. An active and healthy social life adds to senior health, well-being, and longevity.

    Exercise, of course, needs to be combined with healthy food choices. It's easy to let things slide when only cooking for one or two, but there are many benefits to keeping on track with food choices. Sit down with your parent and ask them what they're eating. Don't be afraid to look in their refrigerator. A little encouragement from you will help.

    Lastly, make sure that doctor's appointments are kept and that medications are reviewed with your parent's doctor at least once a year. Some medications may cause dizziness or loss of balance and your parent will want to be aware of this. Also, over-medication can be a problem. A simple daily pill organizer may help with this issue.

    Related: Fit to Retire

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    Protect Them Financially

    This is probably the hardest subject to broach with a parent. No one wants to feel that their money management skills are in question. However, although difficult, it's a good idea to review bills, insurance coverages, and investments with an elderly parent to head off fraud or over-billing. While at it, make sure a bill paying schedule is in place and that bills are continuing to be paid on a timely basis.

    Related: Financial Abuse of Elderly

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    Make Sure Their Home Is Secure

    Make sure your parent's home is secure. Install solid door locks and a "peep hole" on the front door. Also, conmen are known to address elderly people by their names to gain entrance into their homes, so be sure to take your parent's name off of the mailbox. Finally, make sure that the exterior of your parent's home is well-lit to deter unwelcome guests.

    Related: Practical and Frugal Home Security

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    Keep in Close Contact

    Finally, the most important thing that can be done to protect elderly parents is to check on them frequently with a phone call. Better yet, visit in person to make sure things are going well.

    With all these tips, be sure to use discretion and wisdom. You don't want to come across as overbearing or as a threat to their independence and freedom. In fact, your ultimate goal should be to provide an environment that fosters independence for as long as possible, and by following these tips as appropriate, you'll be doing just that.

    Related Articles:
    Care Management for Your Elderly Parent
    Things to Watch for When Signing an Assisted Living Contract

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