Ask yourself these questions as you evaluate your parent’s health and safety:
- Does your parent have trouble completing day-to-day activities, including cooking or bathing?
- How do their medication's side effects impact their day-to-day?
- Are they falling, suffering from memory loss or experiencing other health changes?
Safety relates to many factors including environment, health and behavior. With aging parents, everything from money to medication matters. There are a few concerns and investments to consider for their safety.
Your parent’s medication supports their ailments but could pose greater risks with side effects. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 82 percent of American adults take at least one medication and 29 percent take five or more. Understand the medication that mom or dad is taking. You’ll want to be aware of the dosage and side effects. Consult with your parent’s doctor to learn about any effects of medication working together and how the medicine combinations may impact your parent’s overall health.
Health conditions and ailments can escalate quickly. Warning signs including forgetfulness, neglecting daily activities, physical injuries and a change in behavior. Changes in your parent’s habits, physical appearance or health can bring about safety concerns including falling, scars, mismanaging finances and other risky behavior. Elison Jones, the Family Caregiver Coordinator for Triangle J Council of Governments, shared the biggest risk:
“The biggest risk is falling,” he said. “Once someone falls they can break bones off of their pelvis - which is quite a setback for an older person.”
Consult with a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) to better assess any safety and medical concerns for your parents. Jones also recommends balance training courses to help reduce the risk of falling.
If your parents are calling for more emergency help consider a medical alert. Medical alerts are there for your parents when you can’t be there physically. The easy-to-use hardware uses a landline or cellular signals to send signals to a professional monitoring system when the hardware’s button is pressed. Monitoring agents will assist your parent with quickly alert emergency responders. is equipped with features including two-way audio and fall detection to quickly alert emergency responders. Some medical alerts can also alert you and other close family members immediately so you’ll always stay in the know.
Addressing aging living conditions
As you think about your parent’s health and safety there are a few living options to consider. Your parents can stay home or move to a smaller space that better fits their day-to-day needs. Others often moving into assisted living communities or move their parents in with them. With each choice, remember to evaluate both the financial and emotional cost.
“The cost is money, but there’s an emotion cost for a senior leaving their home to go into . It’s normal that they want to age in their homes,” Jones shared.
For financial assistance, evaluate Medicaid assistance towards long-term care and look into any state programs based on income and benefits. If your parents decide to live at home, consider adding a few extra security measures. Add a home security system that gives you and your parents remote control of security cameras, alarm systems and smart locks. You’ll be able to keep a close eye on your parents at all times. Remember, your parent's safety is more important than independence. Security systems are not substitutions for medical alerts as many security agents are trained to assist with home security and not medical assistance.
If you’re leaning towards your parents moving in with you, consider creating a separate living space for your parents to feel right at home with hazardous kitchen appliances, a television and any furnishings to create a comfortable area. Check on them regularly and include them in as many family activities as possible to make them feel loved.
Tips for talking to your parents
- Be mindful when talking to your parents about their health and safety concerns. Your relationship with them is important.
- Consider their needs
- Share your safety concerns and potential dangers. Share some home renovations ideas such as adding ramps or rails to help your mom or dad feel safer moving around.
- Point out the benefits of extra help from caregivers. Having an extra hand help with day-to-day activities could be a relief.
- Speak with your parent and their doctor together about, assistance, medication and any recommendations.