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Safety For Your Aging Parent
Managing aging parents can place tension on family relationships and create stress for all of those involved. It's especially concerning when safety becomes a daily worry and the adult children live too far away or are unable to check on their parents regularly. Sending a parent to a nursing home seems like an easy fix but many don't have the financial means to pay for the steep costs of elder care or they aren't ready, even unwilling,
to leave their home at this time.
If your elder parent is still living independently several steps may be taken to improve their safety and reduce the worry with leaving them alone:
- Assess their driving skills. Age does not determine if someone is still equipped to drive or not. However, age can impact a person's response time, vision, hearing, and concentration. Certain medications can also impact a person's ability to safety drive even short distances. Making sure your parent is still capable of driving safely is imperative to their safety. On a regular basis identify if your parent or relative
- Drive appropriate speeds, neither too fast or too slow?
- Is aware of pedestrians and other cars.
- Is able to turn around to see while backing up.
- Knows directions to and from grocery stores and doctors offices.
- Appropriately responds to street signs and traffic lights.
- Is not involved in an accident or near miss.
- Stays within the marked lanes.
- Can still physically turn the wheel and open/close the door.
Choose a neighbor to assist and provide them a key. If your parent has a neighbor or friend that lives close by it's a good idea to get their contact information and provide them a key. Should you call and not make contact after several attempts it's a good idea to call that person and have them check the house before calling 911. This will help avoid unnecessary emergency response calls.
Obtain a medical alert system. Should your loved one have a real emergency a medical alert system will provide the fastest response. Should they fall, have a medical emergency or even have a fire or an intruder a medical alert system will provide the fastest response. Typically a your loved one will wear a pendant that allows them access to speak to a 24 hour service. Should a situation arise the service will attempt
to talk to your parent and then will determine if an emergency exists. When looking at different medical alert systems you should consider:
- Is the equipment waterproof?
- How much is the monthly fee and how long is the monitoring contract?
- How easy is the equipment to use?
- Does the system offer GPS tracking?
- Will the company periodically check-up on your loved one?
- Do they have a good reputation?
Equip and modify their home to improve safety. Install hand railings in the shower and on stairs to avoid falls. Move the washer and dryer to the first floor to avoid steep climbs to and from the basement. Move dishes and kitchen utensils to within safe reach.
Improving the safety and surroundings of an elderly person will allow them to love independent longer and reduce their risk of injury. Regularly assess their driving abilities, utilize a medical alert system and make their home more user friendly.
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