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New Year, New Worries – How to Keep an Aging Loved One Safe and Independent

The hustle and bustle of the holidays is over. Things are settling down and we’re preparing ourselves for the winter doldrums that the next few months will inevitably bring. But, for many adult children with an aging loved one, this time of year can oftentimes create a new kind of stress – the stress of making sure mom and dad are getting the care they need to age safely and independently.

Everyone is so busy throughout the year and whether you live a few miles from your parents or across the country, the holidays are usually a time when we have the chance to spend some extended time together. Sometimes, this is when we begin to notice small changes in mom or dad. Maybe they forgot the infamous family stories of Christmases long ago. Maybe their famous dessert didn’t taste quite up to par. Or maybe their house was not the spic and span version you remembered from years past. Little signs can sometimes point to the beginning of bigger problems. But, as an adult child, what action can you take?

First, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons. As we age, none of us can do things quite as easily as we once could and our pace understandably slows down. Put yourself in their shoes and think about your own independence. Take time to fully consider if their safety and health is at risk or if their actions can negatively harm someone else. If so, it is probably time to consider what I call a “hand up” to help them remain as independent as possible.


Physical and mental stimulation is an important way to help reduce depression and keep the mind sharp. Senior Centers can provide a home away from home. In addition to activities and socialization, seniors can receive a hot meal and valuable information. Visiting the senior center can give your loved one a sense of purpose and something to look forward to attending throughout the week. Senior Center activities are available at little or no cost. Sometimes, transportation can also be arranged. If this is something that might interest your loved one, call your local Area Agency on Aging to find out more information.

Home Care (Non-Medical)

Maybe it is becoming too difficult for mom or dad to keep up with the housework. They may be forgetting to take their medications or want someone to attend a medical appointment when you are at work or out of town. Home care can be a great solution. It doesn’t require a prescription and provides great flexibility for families. A trained caregiver can visit several times a week to help with a variety of tasks. This is usually a great way to give adult children a little peace of mind knowing someone has checked in on mom or dad.

Home Modifications or Equipment

Something as simple as extra lighting by the stove, a new railing on a staircase or a raised toilet seat can go a long way to keep a senior safe. Simple fixes like moving the laundry out of the basement, removing throw rugs or wobbly chairs and recycling newspapers can easily prevent a serious fall. The added benefit to many of these modifications? They can be quick and affordable solutions.

This is just a small sample of ways to help seniors with just a little “hand up.” If you have weighed the pros and cons and you believe some of these resources can help your loved one, please feel free to reach out to the PA Link to Aging and Disability Resource Center for a listing of services available in your community. Please call our toll-free Call Center at 1-800-753-8827 or email me at

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