Have you checked on your mom, dad or grandparents lately? If you haven’t, it is time.
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How To Help Your Aging Parents
1.Stay in touch. If your parents are still able to use a phone, call them frequently but don’t leave it at that. Go visit them, too. They need to see your face. They need a hug. They need company. Do not take “no” for an answer. As conditions decline, older people often cover their tracks. They may be scared, embarrassed or clueless but they need you, now more than ever.
2.Remember that they are still adults. Don’t talk down to older people, treat them with respect. Love them. Be patient. Remember that at one time they were the revered school teachers, engineers, doctors and CEO’s that everyone looked up to. They ran things!
3.Ask if you can check their medicine cabinet. Look for expired prescriptions. Look for evidence that meds are not being taken properly. Help them stay on track with a pill organizer. Sit down together to fill it. Show them how it works. You may have to fill it for them. If so, do it.
4.Go with grandma or grandpa to their doctors’ appointments. If you cannot get them into your car, find a medical transport service in your area to arrange for transportation. Be sure to go along, too, and bring their insurance card and medical records with you. Keep track of followup visits, as well. Make the best of it. Don’t just “dump and run.” Plan on staying with them back home for a cup of coffee or a meal and visit. Or, how about taking them to a favorite restaurant for lunch? Everyone needs a change of scenery once in a while.
5.Fix things. Are there burnt out light bulbs to be replaced? Loose handles to tighten? Laundry to be done? Eliminate lifting and other difficult tasks for them by doing it yourself. Make their lives easier and safer. Remove tripping hazards, such a throw rugs, that could cause a fall. Cut the lawn. Shovel the snow. Take care of the details.
6.Check the refrigerator and cupboards. Are there expired foods that need to be thrown out? Is there enough food? Are they eating? Come eat with them whenever you can or bring them to your home for a meal. When you cannot do this, have meals ready in the freezer that can easily be prepared.
7.Check their mail. Are there unpaid bills that need attention? Renewals of drivers’ licenses, insurance policies and such? Offer to go over their bank statements and credit card bills with them to be sure that their money is safe and all is well.
8.Get an emergency medical alert call button. They can be worn as a bracelet or necklace. There are also styles that can be strategically mounted on the wall, table or counter-top.
9.Monitors & alarms: Make sure that there are working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on each floor that sound an alarm. Install a baby monitor or “granny cam” if needed. Privacy is important but safety is all the more so. Let grandma and grandpa know it is there and what it is for.
10.Recognize your limitations. Hire a visiting assistant to come by when you can’t. Reach out to other family members, helpful neighbors and your church. Build a support team so that you’re not in this alone.
11.Write down important phone numbers and leave them near the phone. Set them up on speed-dial if they have a programmable phone. Though they may have phone numbers memorized now, there may come a day that they won’t be able to recall them or how to use speed dial. In the same vein, put a readable calendar plus a pen near the phone for them to keep track of important dates.
12.Enlist legal help. Attorneys who specialize in elder law are a valuable resource. They can advise you on how to protect your parents / grandparents’ money and, if needed, walk all of you through applying for Medicaid and finding the other services you need.
Do you have any tips that will help us protect and care for the older generation? Please share!