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Cutting Corners Puts Older Adults At Risk

By Carol Marak

Evidence is mounting that older adults are cutting expenses to keep up with the economic downturn.

Senior care experts warn families to be on alert to make sure seniors aren't cutting too deeply.  Warning signs include skipping medications, pulling the plug on heating and canceling social outings.  

Cuts of essential items such as food and medication should be of immediate concern to seniors' families.  Other reductions in spending can lead to less obvious issues.  One of the biggest problems that we see is senior isolation.  That issue has really been magnified during this troubled time in our economy with the high price of gas.  

An older adult can get in trouble very quickly.  Especially when families live a distance from their loved ones, or when Boomer children are busy trying to make ends meet themselves,  That's why it's so important that someone look out for the well-being of seniors.  You want to know they are safe in their homes and eating properly, taking their medications and able to maintain their appointments and social life.

It's important also for seniors to guard against fraud and too-good-to-be-true offers. Older adults also should beware of CDs and fixed annuities that can promise higher interest rates, but force seniors to lock in their money for longer time periods, Garrett noted.  Always get a second opinion, she advises.

Families also can play an important role monitoring seniors who have decided to scale back because of the economy.  Even seemingly innocent decisions, like cutting back a little on groceries or air conditioning, can have a damaging impact.

So what signs should families look for to warn them that a senior might be putting themselves in harm's way?  

If you're a family caregiver ask yourself the following questions.  

1.Is your senior's home too warm in the summer and too cold in the winter?
2.Is the lawn not getting mowed nor is the sidewalk getting cleaned in inclement weather?
3.Is your loved one complaining about not being able to afford medications?
4.Are home repairs not getting made?
5.Is there a shortage of food in the house?
6.Is your senior skipping doctor's appointments?
7.Is your older adult staying home more and becoming isolated?
8.Is your senior cutting out entertainment?
9.Does your loved one eat out less?
10.Did your senior cancel a vacation?  

If you're an older adult experiencing difficulties because of the economy, contact your local Area Agency on Aging.

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