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    Caring for Parents, Keeping Them Healthy

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    Blood pressure is an issue among most older adults. Get a reliable sphygmomanometer (a blood pressure monitor) and teach your loved one -- and yourself -- to take blood pressure readings. Some pharmacies take blood pressure readings and teach you to do it yourself for free.

    Local community service organizations such as the Kiwanis or Lions Club often offer free eye exams and eyeglasses to older adults who can't easily afford them. Your Area Agency on Aging will tell you what's available in your area.

    Free dental care is available from local dental schools, and often, a low income is not even a requirement. Contact the dental college in your area.

    Keep a diary of your parent's health progress.

    If your loved one is running a temperature or experiencing any other condition that may require a doctor's care, keep hourly notes and temperature readings for later reference.

    Wash your hands often when caring for your parents. Remind them to wash theirs, too.

    Keep plenty of moisturizer around. Dry, chapped hands are especially common in winter. When you visit department stores, ask the people at the cosmetics counters for free samples, and keep these around the house to be used often.

    Even natural supplements can sometimes be a bad mix with certain medications or cause side effects on their own. Ask your mom if she is taking anything like herbs or other supplements. Check them out with her doctor, no matter how harmless you believe they are.

    Foot massagers are great for promoting blood circulation and avoiding cracked heals, which can sometimes split. This is especially important in people with diabetes.

    A digital thermometer is easier to use than a mercury thermometer. Take temperatures using the armpit if your parent has breathing problems or is easily confused.

    If Mom has breathing problems and uses an inhaler, keep several around your house and hers, in the car, and so forth.

    Many trips to the bathroom may indicate a urinary tract infection, common among older people who don't always get the fluids they need. Consult a doctor immediately.

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