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Trading Places: When Your Parents Need Help

Whether your father’s health is declining or your mother’s hip breaks, realizing your parents might not be able to live on their own anymore can be hard to accept.

“It's tough to know when to take a more active role in caring for your parents,” says Marc Chapman, M.D., internist on the medical staff at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Hurst-Euless-Bedford. “If you notice their home becoming untidy, or you observe that they’re no longer cooking meals, they may need help on a regular basis.”

To help you care for your parents in their golden years, consider the following tips:

• Be sensitive. If your parents are well enough to stay in their own home but need assistance with chores, tell them you want to help out so they’ll have more energy for fun things.

• Prepare your home. If your parents move in, make sure your home is safe. Secure rugs, clear walkways and ensure small children don’t get underfoot. Also, sit down with your parents and discuss your expectations and boundaries regarding the new living situation. By discussing issues on the front end, you can help prevent problems down the road.

• Choose wisely. If an assisted-living facility is the best option for your parents, look around and carefully consider what each one offers, including activities, transportation and quality of care.

For information about senior services at a Texas Health hospital, please visit or call 1-877-THR-WELL (1-877-847-9355). (Spring 2009)

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