August 31, 2020
Courtesy of Anica Oaks
Making your home mobility-friendly is important for loved ones who require the use of special equipment or mobility aids to navigate their living space. Fortunately, your house can become more accessible for these mobility needs by making relatively minor and cost-efficient adjustments.
Some homes are structured with wide doorways that accommodate wheelchairs, walkers, and other types of equipment used for mobility. Other homes may need to widen the doorways of at least a few rooms for this purpose. Fortunately, doorways can be widened or even removed to accommodate a family member’s mobility appliances as needed. Not all rooms would necessarily need to have a wider doorway, but just those that are used routinely by loved ones with mobility needs. These might include the person’s bedroom, a nearby bathroom, and the living room or family room.
Open Up the Living Space
You can also arrange accessible rooms to be more open in terms of moving furniture closer to the walls or buying smaller furniture pieces. Clear any barriers between rooms that will be accessed with the help of mobility equipment. Wide open spaces make any room or area more accessible, including hallways, foyers, and exits.
Everyday clutter like shoes, newspapers, or toys typically don’t bother most of us, as we learn to step over these items or pick them up when encountered. However, family members who are using mobility devices may not be able to easily get around or remove things in their way. Each day check for items that may be incidentally strewn in their path so that you can make the way clear for crutches, a walker, a wheelchair, or a stair elevator.
Designate Specific Areas for Mobility
Remind family members to keep certain areas of the home accessible at all times to loved ones who are mobility-impaired. Get everyone involved in picking up after themselves and clearing the regular pathways of family members who rely on equipment to move from one area to another. Discarded clothes and towels in the bathroom should be placed in the laundry bin instead of left lying on the floor. Pet toys should be kept to a certain area for that location only.
People who use mobility devices may benefit from installed handrails in strategic places. Hallways, bathrooms, and eating areas are prime locations for handrails that can be used to assist mobility if needed.
Caring for loved ones who require mobility assistance can be facilitated with steps like these. Help your family members who depend on mobility aids to navigate the home comfortably and safely.
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August 26, 2020
By: Rachel Wonderlin, MS, Dementia by Day
I wrote this a few years ago, but just added four more “things” to my list. If I get dementia, I’d like my family to hang this wish list up on the wall where I live. I want them to remember these things. The original list was also published in my book, When Someone You Know is Living in a Dementia Care Community.
- If I get dementia, I want my friends and family to embrace my reality. If I think my spouse is still alive, or if I think we’re visiting my parents for dinner, let me believe those things. I’ll be much happier for it.
- If I get dementia, don’t argue with me about what is true for me versus what is true for you.
- If I get dementia, and I am not sure who you are, do not take it personally. My timeline is confusing to me.
- If I get dementia, and can no longer use utensils, do not start feeding me. Instead, switch me to a finger-food diet, and see if I can still feed myself.
- If I get dementia, and I am sad or anxious, hold my hand and listen. Do not tell me that my feelings are unfounded.
- If I get dementia, I don’t want to be treated like a child. Talk to me like the adult that I am.
- If I get dementia, I still want to enjoy the things that I’ve always enjoyed. Help me find a way to exercise, read, and visit with friends.
- If I get dementia, ask me to tell you a story from my past.
- If I get dementia, and I become agitated, take the time to figure out what is bothering me.
- If I get dementia, treat me the way that you would want to be treated.
- If I get dementia, make sure that there are plenty of snacks for me in the house. Even now if I don’t eat I get angry, and if I have dementia, I may have trouble explaining what I need.
- If I get dementia, don’t talk about me as if I’m not in the room.
- If I get dementia, don’t feel guilty if you cannot care for me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s not your fault, and you’ve done your best. Find someone who can help you, or choose a great new place for me to live.
- If I get dementia, and I live in a dementia care community, please visit me often.
- If I get dementia, don’t act frustrated if I mix up names, events, or places. Take a deep breath. It’s not my fault.
- If I get dementia, make sure I always have my favorite music playing within earshot.
- If I get dementia, and I like to pick up items and carry them around, help me return those items to their original places.
- If I get dementia, don’t exclude me from parties and family gatherings.
- If I get dementia, know that I still like receiving hugs or handshakes.
- If I get dementia, remember that I am still the person you know and love.
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August 18, 2020
August 12, 2020
Written by: Dr. Pamela Tronetti, DO
Sponsored by Parrish Healthcare
Mrs. James sat by her husband’s hospital bed as the days turned into weeks. Every day she peppered the staff with questions, pointed out little problems before they became big ones, demanded to know the plan for the next day, and monitored his diet, physical activity and symptoms.
Each time a new team of residents and students came, she gave them a thorough report. She also made sure that everyone knew that her husband was a person first and a set of symptoms second.
She was the watchdog who protected him. She never had to bite or even growl, but she occasionally had to bark. When someone you love is in the hospital, they need someone to be their advocate, spokesperson, and yes, watchdog. Here’s what you need to do.
You will need multiple copies of your loved one’s medical history, surgeries, allergies, and medication list. Give one to every consulting doctor, nurse, or pharmacist who comes in.
Keep a notebook to record who was in and what they said (“Karen the speech therapist says that mom needs a mechanical soft diet.” “Dr. Bo will read the echocardiogram and may do a cardiac catheterization.”)
Bring your own dry erase marker for the room’s whiteboard. You can leave your name, phone number, and notes for the staff such as “Mom is hard of hearing.”
“Fine” is not acceptable. If someone tells you that a blood count, pulse rate or oxygen level is “fine,” get the exact number. You need to track and trend numbers and get printouts of all other tests such as x-rays and cardiac reports. A good option is to access the hospital’s patient portal to see the results of all the testing.
What is your loved one eating? Sometimes when people are admitted they are placed on clear liquid diet and it is never advanced to something more substantial. Check the printout that comes with their meal tray to see what diet is listed. Advocate for as liberal a diet as possible.
On the other hand, if you know that they are scheduled for a test and should be NPO (nothing by mouth) make sure that everyone knows that. The last thing you need is to have an important procedure canceled just because someone mistakenly brought breakfast into the room and your loved one ate it.
And one more hint. Avoid the rush hours when ordering meals. Call in your dinner order before 4 p.m., lunch before 11 a.m. and breakfast the night before if possible.
Get your loved one out of bed. Get your loved one out of bed. Get your loved one out of bed! Unless there is an unstable fracture or critical medical illness, they need to be out of bed and walking as much as possible. If it is too difficult for the nursing staff, ask if there is a lift team who can help the patient get up and move around.
Use your eyes and ears. Check out as much of their skin as they will allow. Note any rash, open sores or discolored areas. Point them out to the rounding physicians. Also report if your loved one was coughing, wheezing, vomiting, constipated, complaining of pain, or if they have any other symptom that worries you.
Know the plan for today, the next day, and the rest of the stay. Get a printout of the orders for the day – labs, procedures, and tests. Then ask what will happen based on the findings. Sometimes it is a watch and wait (if someone is recovering from an acute infection or a stroke), but other times there are definite steps to be taken (three days of recovery after joint replacement surgery then rehab) and you need to be part of them.
Discharge planning is facilitated by the Case Management staff. The case manager is the person who can make arrangements for nursing home, rehab center, and home healthcare. You will want to talk to her early in the stay. You also need to make it clear that you need at least 24 hours to plan for any transfer back home or to a facility.
Remember that you don’t need to have the staff like you. You just need them to do their job while you do yours.
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August 11, 2020
By Brooke Chaplan
Whether you are aging, or you have parents who are living with you, it is important to make the home safe for everyone. Because older people can slip and fall easier, it is a big deal to eliminate trip hazards. Ensuring the elderly can navigate the garage may be vital to some households. We give you four ways you can improve your garage area to make it more convenient and accessible for older family members.
Using a lift or a chair rail can significantly improve the ability to get into the house from the garage. This change is especially important when you have several steps leading into the home or a split-level house. These lifts allow older members to sit while toting groceries or other purchases. These items can allow people to stay at home instead of going to an assisted living center.
Larger doors give the elderly room to use walkers, canes, and wheelchairs. Even if the person does not use these items, there may be a time when they are necessary. Installing bigger openings provides ample access for visitors and household members who use walking aids. The larger doors are also helpful for allowing people to get through the door with an arm full of items without knocking them to the floor.
Clear and clean paths
A flat, dirt-free surface is important to keep your family members from falling. A concrete floor with texture or tile overlay can provide the footing older people need to feel secure when walking and prevent slips. Your trusted, local concrete company can provide you with several options to consider for your home, budget, and needs. Keeping at least ten feet of space between the wall and a wheelchair accessible vehicle will give people plenty of room to turn around and get in and out of the van safely. Another idea is to use storage shelves that you can anchor to the walls. Putting belongings in clear totes will make it quicker to find the things you need.
All the above tips will do no good without the proper lighting. High-intensity fixtures and LED lights will provide enough Lumens to brighten up the entire garage. As we age, we may not see as well, so upgrading the lights and cleaning them often may be the biggest help.
Taking care of yourself and older family members means thinking about every area of the home. The garage is one place many people forget about when updating. This area is very important because many people do not have a way to get to a phone if they fall unless they have a cell phone in their hand.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She recommends looking into window installation near you. For more information, contact Brooke via Facebook at facebook.com/brooke.chaplan or Twitter @BrookeChaplan
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