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The Boston Globe

Magazine

The Boomers Issue

Does your parent need help?

An associate professor of gerontology at UMass Boston notes the warning signs.

WE ASKED ELIZABETH DUGAN, an associate professor of gerontology at the University of Massachusetts Boston and author of The Driving Dilemma: The Complete Resource Guide for Older Drivers and Their Families, for a few warning signs that it could be time to take a more active role in your parent’s life. (If you don’t live nearby, Dugan says, enlist the help of her doctor or one of her friends to help keep you informed.) Ideally, parents will have earlier worked out all contingencies with directives on their medical care, driving, housing, and finances. “It’s a way for parents to retain autonomy, to clearly express their wishes,” Dugan says. “And to take the pressure off the kids, too.”

If a parent’s car is accumulating small scrapes and dings, that may be a sign he or she is having trouble driving. “Do they get lost in familiar areas or say it takes longer to get to the doctor’s office or grocery store?” asks Dugan. “Do they feel stressed when driving or less confident?”

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