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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Monday, September 11, 2017

Tips to Avoid and Manage Crises with Elderly Parents

Aging parents may resist help out of a need to feel capable and independent. It is hard to accept that you need assistance. When seniors will not reach out for or accept offered help when needed, they can end up in a crisis. If you are caring for an aging parent, here are crisis management tips for people with elderly parents.

Home Modifications To Prevent Injuries And Fires

As your parents age, they may struggle to go up and down the stairs, or reach things from high shelves, or remember to turn off the stovetop burners. If you do not take care of these issues, it may not be comfortable or safe for your parent to continue living in her own home. Luckily, there are home modifications that can make it possible for your elderly parents to continue to live at home.

You can have an electric stair chair installed so your parent can sit while going up and down the stairs. This device can keep your parents from falling down the stairs, an accident that can have life-changing injuries. Safety bars at the toilet and tub or shower alterations can keep your parent safe from falling in the bathroom.

It is a good idea to move heavy things from upper shelves to lower ones, so they will not land on your parent when he is trying to reach something. There are gadgets your parents can use to grab items that are out of reach rather than climbing on a step stool.

There are many safety features available to prevent fires in the kitchen and throughout the house. You should talk with your office of the California Department of Aging and the local fire department for tips on how to make your parents’ home less likely to have fires.

Financial crises

If your parent is suffering from diminishing cognitive abilities, he may lose his life savings through unintentional mismanagement or from financial abuse by others. If this scenario is a concern, you should talk with your parent about it, and gently ascertain if you can put safeguards in place to protect him. Requiring a second signature on all transactions over a stated amount can provide some protection, but a power of attorney or conservatorship is necessary in some situations.

Medical Crises And Aging Parents

You hear a story on the news about a senior who wandered away from home and your heart races until you hear the person’s name and know it is not your aging parent. For a multitude of reasons – mental illness, medication, decreased cognitive function, Alzheimer’s, to name just a few – the elderly sometimes go on a short version of a “walk-about” and often meet with a tragic end.

You can attach tracking devices to their clothes and shoes, and you can prepare a “scent kit” to allow a trained rescue dog to find your parent quickly, but if these measures are necessary, your parent might be safer in a facility that provides 24-hour supervision. It can be hard to discuss this subject with your mom or dad, but it is not as painful as losing your parent because she died of exposure or drowning while out wandering.

If your parent needs assistance with taking her medication correctly or has other ongoing medical needs, she may need home health care. It is better to prevent a medical crisis than to have to deal with one after it happens.

The Best-Laid Plans

If, despite your best planning and efforts, your elderly parent ends up in a crisis, already have a game plan mapped out. Think of the steps you would need to take in a medical emergency, a financial crisis or another urgent situation. Make a list of the people you would need to notify, and put the information where you can access it on the fly. There are cell phone apps that make it easy to have data at your fingertips.

Know where all the important documents are, and the names and contact information of all medical personnel, financial advisors, and legal advisors.  Having a plan is the first step of prudent crisis management.

The services and programs available for aging Californians are different across the state. Be sure to talk with an elder law attorney in your area.

Request a consult with the professional elder law attorneys at Horizon Law today.


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