The “brown bag test”
A common problem seniorsfaceis how to properly manage their medications.“When being treated by multiple physicians and specialists for multipleconditions, sometimes a senior’s vast matrix of medications becomes overlycomplicated,” says Sally Olin, RN, director of Partners in Care, a home healthcare company in Charlotte, North Carolina. This can lead to confusion aboutdosages and times, and possible interactions that can affect balance, hearingand alertness. For a simple solution, perform the “brown bag test.” Collect Mom’sor Dad’s medications (a brown bag is optional) and bring them to the pharmacistor prescribing physician to verify each medication and the dosage instructions.Doing so may even allow you to eliminate superfluous medications or thosecausing hazardous side effects.
Helping out at home: grocery shopping
Helping out around the house is one great way to care for Mom and Dad, but it’sdifficult to know where to begin. Why not start with grocery shopping? Withdiminishing eyesight, less confidence in their driving ability and that busy newintersection in town, your parents will probably appreciate your help.Furthermore, if they’re not shopping frequently, they might not be eating therecommended healthy diet of fresh protein, fruits and vegetables. To make thingseasier, coordinate your own shopping trips with your parents’. Plan a day to gotogether and offer to do the driving. Just by helping load up the car and carryinggroceries into the kitchen, you could become their suburban hero!
Helping out at home: in the kitchen
If your parents are elderly, chances are they suffer from osteoarthritis. Stiff handsand fingers from years of wear and tear make basic tasks like cooking difficultand painful, leading seniors to rely on less nutritious prepared foods. Even if you’re not a great cook, you can help your parents in the kitchen by followingthese tips: 1) Be the sous chef! Chop up a week’s worth of vegetables and storethem in reusable plastic containers for easy access. 2) Sharpen the kitchenknives. Dull blades require more force for cutting and chopping. 3) Purchase anelectric can and jar opener. They will be Mom and Dad’s kitchen lifesavers.
Education is the key to safe caring
Illness or injury can strike suddenly, leaving many women unexpectedly caringfor a parent. Role reversal is frightening, especially if you find yourself suddenlyresponsible for helping an elderly parent walk, use a wheelchair or get cleanedand dressed. If you’re in this situation, it’s important to educate yourself aboutyour new caregiving role—it’ll teach you how to provide the best care and helpprevent injury to yourself or the person you’re caring for. A good place to start is