QUESTION: I live alone and am very much afraid of fire. I would like to “fireproof” my home but don’t have any idea on how to start.

ANSWER: Every year, home fires kill and injure thousands of people, many of them seniors. You can stop fires before they start by following basic fire safety rules:

Look for hazards in your home and eliminate them as you do your daily chores. Don’t let rubbish pile up. It adds fuel to a fire and can block escape routes. Put things away — a place for everything and everything in its place. Keep stairs and hallways free of clutter. Make sure windows and doors aren’t blocked and can be opened easily.
Check your appliances. Replace or repair any appliance that sparks or smokes. Make sure TVs and stereos have space for air circulation and remove lint from the dryer filter after every load.
Don’t overload circuits or outlets. Replace any cords that aren’t in good condition and avoid using extension cords.
Kitchens can be dangerous, so keep your range, oven and vent fan clean and grease-free. Keep curtains and towels away from cooking areas. Make a fire escape plan, mapping out all possible escape routes, and review it frequently.
Purchase a multipurpose fire extinguisher and learn how to use it. Keep it stored where it can easily be reached if needed. If you do not have smoke detectors, I suggest that you have them installed.
QUESTION: My parents live in another state. They are healthy but getting on in years, and I am concerned about helping them when they need assistance. What, if anything, can I do now to be prepared to step in when needed?

ANSWER: Caring for parents is a concern, no matter where they live, how healthy they are or what their age is. There are, however, a few steps that can ensure you’ll be better prepared, should the need arise.


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First plan to talk with your parents — communication is essential. It is vital that you understand what your parents want and need, should different situations occur. Get to know the people in your parents’ life. Establish a communications network with their friends, neighbors, clergy, doctors, etc. Exchange phone numbers, email addresses, etc., and make sure your parents’ most trusted friend or close-by relative has the ability to access their home in case of an emergency.

As children, most of us have been taught not to ask personal questions, but it now becomes necessary to have some basic knowledge of your parents’ personal affairs. Take an inventory together.

In general terms, discuss what income is available and how and when it is generated. Determine what assets exist, know how they are titled and which can be tapped into, if necessary, for future living expenses. Review medical insurance to understand the coverage they have and what limitations, if any, exist. Check to see whether they have completed their estate planning — will, trust, power-of-attorney or advance directive for health care. Learn where those papers are kept.

Since your parents live in another state, there may be differences in state laws for eligibility to numerous programs that help seniors — such as Medicaid (known in our state as Medi-Cal). To find the appropriate state offices and programs, call the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116. This program is on the East Coast and is available from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Pacific time. You just need to provide the ZIP code for your parents’ community and they can provide you information about programs available in that area.

Medicare one-stop shops

Nov. 3: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Moorpark Active Adult Center, 799 Moorpark Ave.

Nov. 8 and 29: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Simi Valley Senior Center, 3900 Avenida Simi.

Nov. 7, 21 and 28: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks.


Thursday: 10 a.m. to noon, panel presentation, “Local Safety Nets for Seniors,” in the Camarillo City Council chambers, 601 Carmen Drive. Call 388-5397 for more information.

Nov. 2: 1 p.m., “Medicare 2017” seminar at the Thousand Oaks Council on Aging meeting in the boardroom at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd.

Nov. 9: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., memory screening at Senior Helpers, 31255 Cedar Valley Drive, Westlake Village. Reservations are required. Call 497-8370.

Nov. 15: 5:30-7 p.m., Empowered Caregiver Series’ “Caregiving During the Holidays” at Senior Concerns Day Care Center, 401 Hodencamp Road in Thousand Oaks. Call 497-0189 for reservations.

Nov. 16: 1:30-3 p.m., “Scammers Enjoy the Holidays, Too” seminar at Westlake Village Civic Center, 31200 E. Oak Crest Drive in Westlake Village.

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