Monthly Archives: July 2014

Pre-Surgery Checklist for Adult Children to Help Parents Aging at Home

pre-surgery checklist for adult children to help with aging at home

You have a million thoughts going through your mind before your aging parent enters a knee or hip surgery, and in the midst of getting ready for the surgery, you may forget to prepare your home or your parent’s home for when they return from a successful surgery. Here’s a checklist of things to help prepare your or your parent’s home for a smooth, post-surgery recovery: 

  • Install grab bars in the bathroom, ramps over the outside steps, and potentially a stair lift if the house has multiple levels.
  • Clear away any clutter that would be easy for your parent to trip over, as well as any throw rugs, electrical cords, or other hazards that could lead to a trip.
  • Elevate seats and beds. After a hip replacement, your parent may not be able to bend the new joint very much until it heals.
  • Adjust living arrangements. If the master bedroom is on the second floor, it may be less painful for your parent to sleep on the main floor as they recover. If that’s not possible, the home should be rearranged so that the recovering patient only has to make one trip down in the morning and one trip up at night.
  • Add nightlights to increase visibility and reduce the risk of falling in case your parent has to get up in the middle of the night.
  • Create a convenient living space. Make sure any important and often-used items are easily accessible- dishware and silverware, the television remote, etc.
  • Prepare the bathroom. After a hip replacement, your parent will require an elevated toilet seat that can be placed over the normal toilet. You’ll also need to examine the shower and bath area; a shower seat and a handheld shower head will be the least painful option between standing for a shower and sitting in a tub.
  • Think about mobility. Will your parent require a walker, a wheelchair or a power scooter to get around the home?
  • Prepare freezer meals that your parent can easily heat for lunch or dinner without worrying about navigating many pots and pans around the kitchen.

By preparing the home for after your parent’s knee or hip surgery, you’ll reduce any stress your parent may encounter during recovery at home. Planning ahead and getting everything ready will be a great help to your parents, and it will help you and them both feel calm and ready to face surgery head-on. 

Increased Disease Risks of Aging in a Nursing Home

When your parents begin to age, you and your family are faced with the difficult decision of whether to help your parents age in a nursing home or in the comfort of their own home. While you will consider factors such as cost, comfort, socializing, and more, you will also want to consider disease risk,

increased disease risk in nursing homes

As our bodies age, we become more susceptible to getting sick because our immune system changes and doesn’t function as well. Your immune system becomes slower to respond, and the healing process also slows down significantly. Thanks to these changes, you become more likely to get sick as you age. You can decrease age-related disease risks by getting vaccinated, exercising, eating healthy foods, and not smoking or drinking.

For your aging parents, it becomes even more important for them to have a clean home that will lower their risk of getting sick. In their or your home, it’s easy to make cleanliness and frequent hand-washing a habit among caretakers and visitors.

However, in a nursing home, you don’t have as much control over the environment, which can increase your loved one’s chances of getting sick. A New York Times article found that the percentage of nursing homes cited for deficiencies in “hand hygiene” has been rising recently, with inspectors finding deficiencies in close to 12% of nursing homes in 2009. While most facilities understand the importance of hand washing, it’s difficult to ensure that the staff and caretakers are adhering to high cleanliness standards.

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, one third of all deaths in seniors over 65 results from infectious diseases, with the leading infections including bacterial pneumonia and influenza. Community settings such as nursing homes increase exposure to the disease, while influenza (the “flu”) is easily transmitted by coughing and sneezing, making the risk of infection especially high in closed environments like nursing homes.

Aging at home is one of the best ways to prevent your loved one from contracting a dangerous infectious disease. Caregivers should learn about the most common infections and their symptoms, while also making sure that everyone in the household washes their hands frequently. Visitors should not come if they are sick or getting over an illness, and children especially should be helped with frequent hand-washing. By taking these kinds of preventative measures, you can greatly decrease the chances that your aging parents will contract an infectious disease.

How to Install a Stair Lift

How to install a stair lift

If your aging parent or a loved one is having a hard time getting up and down the stairs in their multi-story home, it may be time to install a Home Access Products stair lift, such as the Summit SL350 Stairlift. A stair lift takes up less space than a ramp or an elevator, and it reduces the risk of slipping and falling, thus preventing injury and lessening the fatigue of the aging resident.

installing stair lift instructions video home access products

For videos of how to install stair lifts at home, click here.

Although installing a stair lift may look hard at first, the process can be broken down into eight easy steps.

  1. Buy your stair lift. Medical supply shops near hospitals may have them, and you can also order stair lifts online. Make sure to accurately measure the stairs before buying to ensure that the track is the correct length.
  2. Lay the lower track on the stairs and attach the brackets to the stairs with the screws that came with your stair lift. Usually, you’ll place three brackets total: at the top of the stairs, at the bottom, and in the middle of the stairs. Take care to lay the track on the wall side of the stairs- laying it on the railing side will block people trying to walk up and down the stairs.
  3. Install the call box wiring. Your stair lift will come with wiring to alert the lift to come down when it’s at the top of the stairs. Feed this cord through the track and against the wall (so that it stays out of the way and doesn’t create a tripping hazard) from the bottom to the top. Some tracks will have a specific place for the cord to clip onto the underside.
  4. Lay the upper track on top of the lower track. It should slide onto the lower track and screw in; then, you can connect the upper track to the brackets you’ve already attached to the stairs. The seat base will attach between the two tracks.
  5. Install the chain. The chain serves as a pulley to move the chair up and down. The chain fits securely in the center of the track, with half on the left side and half on the right. It should move smoothly if fed correctly.
  6. Feed the seat’s power cable through its slot in the track. Because the cable moves with the chair, again, you will want to make sure it moves smoothly and won’t get stuck. If it gets stuck, it might pull out of the track, which is hazardous.
  7. Attach the seat to the track using the supplied screws. Adjust it to a position that will be comfortable for the user. Only test the seat when it is securely attached to the track.
  8. Plug the main power cable into the bottom of the track, and plug the other end into the wall outlet.

Congratulations! You’ve just installed your own stair lift. If you have questions, our team is always happy to help you out. We’re just a phone call away.

Aging at Home with Alzheimer’s

Watching a loved one cope with the onset of Alzheimer’s can be a devastating time, and one of the most difficult decisions you will make during this time is where your loved one should age. A nursing home or assisted living facility is an option, of course, but in some circumstances, it may be more appropriate for the patient to live in his or her home. An Alzheimer’s patient may feel more comfortable in his or her own home, and the familiarity may help delay their decline. Your family may also not be able to afford a nursing home, or there may be a waiting list.

HAP aging at home with alzheimer's

If you and your family can devote time to in-home caregiving or can afford an in-home caregiver to help your loved one, there are measures you can take to help ensure that your loved one is aging in place safely with Alzheimer’s.

First, develop day-to-day routines. Having a daily routine helps Alzheimer’s and dementia care run smoothly. Consistency is beneficial to the Alzheimer’s patient; the structure and familiarity of routines such as waking up, eating, bathing, dressing, having visitors, and bedtime can help your loved ones familiarize themselves.

During the day, activities and visitors will help your loved one receive sensory experiences and socialization. You’ll want to keep the activities tailored to the person’s interests and current level of ability. Outdoor time can be relaxing, as can group activities designed for those with Alzheimer’s. Plan to have visitors at a time of day when your patient is generally upbeat and in a good mood. Be careful not to overwhelm the patient with too much activity or stimulation.

There are also modifications you can make to your home to make it safer for your Alzheimer’s patient:

  • Display emergency phone numbers and the home address near all phones.
  • Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors near the kitchen and bedrooms. Test them frequently.
  • Install secure locks on all outside doors and windows.
  • Hide a spare house key outside the house.
  • Avoid the use of extension cords to reduce the risk of slipping and falling.
  • Stairways should have at least one full-length handrail and should be carpeted or have safety grip strips. If your loved one also suffers from mobility issues, you may consider installing a star lift.
  • Avoid clutter, because it can confuse your loved one and can be a tripping hazard.
  • Consider installing a ramp with handrails instead of stairs to the home’s entryway.
  • Install lights with automatic sensors.
  • Install grab bars in the tub or shower in contrasting color to the wall, or consider installing a bathtub lift.
  • Use a raised toilet seat with handrails or a toilet lift.

In general, remove any hazards- things with sharp edges, electrical cords, poisonous liquids or powders such as laundry supplies, anything that could start a fire, or anything that could cause a fall.

Caring for an aging parent or loved one can be a difficult task, but with the right preparation to help someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia age at home, you can know that your loved one is aging at home in comfort and peace.