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by Abigail Van Buren

Aging Parents' Go It Alone Attitude Can Be Dangerous

DEAR ABBY: My parents are both in their 80s, and I try to stay in touch with them as often as possible. Unfortunately, one issue I cannot get through to them is when to call 911 for help. Example: If Mom trips and falls, Dad needs to call 911 rather than struggle to help her up. One or both of them could be injured due to lack of strength or ability.

Also, if a stranger rings their doorbell or calls on the phone and asks them questions about checking accounts, etc., this person should be reported.

How do I impress upon my parents the need to contact the authorities when something is amiss rather than attempt to handle it themselves? -- ART IN EASTON, PA.

DEAR ART: Trying to parent one's parents long distance can be frustrating and emotionally draining. Part of the problem may be that when people in their golden years begin to slow down, they often don't realize that it's happening.

Please impress upon your father that when your mother falls there may be a reason for it that goes beyond being "clumsy." She may have suffered a small stroke or have an inner ear imbalance and need to be seen by a doctor. Also, when older people fall they can crack a bone, and being lifted by someone other than a professional can cause further injury.

These days there are more "sharks" swimming around out there than ever, poised to take advantage of the gullible and the vulnerable. If you suspect that someone has been asking your parents for information about their personal finances, the police should be informed. Also, if you feel they need protection, then it's time to involve a social worker to help them. Your local Area Agency on Aging or state department of health can guide you.