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.

How a CAPS Certified Home Builder Can Help Your Aging Parent

When your parents begin aging at home, the best defense is a good offense- by that, we mean having a strong plan in place to help your parent age comfortably and safely at home. That’s where CAPS Certified Home Builders come in.

How a CAPS Certified Home Builder Can Help Your Aging Parent home access products

CAPS stands for Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist, and as America continues to get older (88 million people will be over 60 in the next 15 years, according to the AARP), CAPS home builders are becoming more prevalent, especially considering that recent studies show that the vast majority of aging homeowners prefer to age in place.

CAPS home builders are specifically trained to analyze a homeowner’s needs and propose a project that will meet those needs in a professional, aesthetically pleasing design. They use thoughtful remodeling techniques to help homeowners age in their homes comfortably and at an affordable cost. Outside of just design, the CAPS professionals maintain high codes of ethics and building standards, as well as going through continuing education to stay up to date on the latest in aging at home design and functionality.

When you begin to consider at CAPS home builder, you will want to be aware of what kind of modifications the CAPS professional will offer you. The CAPS professional will focus on increasing access and maneuverability in areas such as the bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom. Some options may including installing bath and shower grab bars, installing bath tub lifts, adjusting countertop heights, creating a first floor master suite, and installing stair lifts. It may be helpful to take a survey to analyze how livable and age-friendly your home is, such as the one offered by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).

Before you meet with a CAPS builder (you can find a local CAPS professional here), it’s important to consider all of the aspects of your home redesign. Outline a budget for any modifications, and select a professional with plenty of experience with your specific kind of remodel (ask family and friends for referrals if possible). Consider whether you’ll need a home equity loan or if you want your remodel to increase the energy efficiency of your home.

Also, think about what specific modifications you’ll need for your home. Some of these options may include:

  • Adding a bathroom/bedroom to the first floor
  • Making your kitchen more functional
  • Preventing falls
  • Widening doorways
  • Installing lever handles on doors
  • Modifying the heights of counters and light switches

The more prepared you are when meeting with a CAPS professional, the more the professional will be able to help meet all of your needs.

It’s important to get a home modification project started sooner rather than later; this way, you’ll save money and you’ll have more time to ensure that everything you need gets done, instead of waiting until something happens to an aging homeowner (such as a slip in a bathtub or an injury that will make it difficult to get around the home). By working with a CAPS certified home builder to create an age-friendly home using home access products, you can ensure that your aging parent is comfortable and can safely live in their home for years to come.

Less Stress for an Aging Parent Living at Home

Caring for an aging parent can be a stressful process. You may worry about their health, the future, and whether they’re getting the care they need. While these concerns are valid, there are ways to reduce your stress and ensure that you’re doing all you can to help your parents age comfortably at home.

home access products less stress for an aging parent living at home

First, make a plan for the changes you can anticipate. Although it may be emotional, have a conversation with your parents about their current and future healthcare needs. Topics you may wish to address include the accessibility of your parents’ home, a nutrition and exercise plan, medical needs, a living will, finances, health insurance, and a health care proxy.

You may initially think that the easiest way to plan for your parents’ aging is to relocate them either closer to you or to a nursing home; however, that’s not usually the case. You may be spending unnecessary money to move your parents from a comfortable environment where they have friends, a community, and a happy life. Also, if your aging parent is beginning to show signs of dementia, moving them from a familiar environment may worsen their symptoms. (Learn more about the advantages of aging at home rather than in a nursing home.)

Next, evaluate the safety of your parents’ home. Making home modifications for aging parents is much easier when you’ve planned ahead rather than after an incident such as a slip or a fall. Pay attention to stairs, the bathtub or shower, the toilet, lighting, and the accessibility of everyday items like clothes, food, and dishes. Thinking ahead to prevent slips and falls in your aging parents’ home will help reduce your stress by knowing that you’ve made your parents’ home as safe as possible.

Also, don’t be afraid to share the workload. It’s not always easy to ask for help, but in the long run, it will help keep your stress in check and it may even help your parents feel a sense of community around them as they age. If you have siblings or other relatives, speak with them about helping your parents. Help may also come from neighbors, a local church, an in-home caregiving service, or friends of your parents. Having a trusted group of people to help your parents age comfortably can help take much of the weight off of your shoulders.

You may also wish to utilize technology to better help you take care of your parents. From medicine dispensers to easy communication methods to home safety and alert systems, technology has become a very helpful tool to help you and your parents stay connected, safe, and healthy.

And finally, remember to take care of yourself as well. Caring for an aging parent can take a significant amount of time, and keeping yourself physically and emotionally healthy will help you maintain a low stress level. Some common signs of caregiver stress include anger, social isolation, anxiety, depression, exhaustion, irritability, and sleep/health problems. If you see these signs in your life, take note, and work to become healthier through good nutrition, exercise, leisure time, and possibly talking to a trusted friend or counselor.

Throughout your parents’ aging, make sure that they know you are there for them. By remaining patient and supportive throughout the process, you’ll help your parents feel comfortable while aging at home, and at the same time, you’ll experience less stress in the process. To learn more about how Home Access Products can help your aging parent age comfortably at home, please call us today.

How to Prevent Slips and Falls in Your Parent’s Home

When your parent(s) begin to age, a major concern about their health is the possibility of a dangerous slip or fall in their home. One in three adults over 65 falls each year, and the resulting health problems can range in severity from minor scrapes and bruises to hip fractures or head trauma. Luckily, slips and falls are largely preventable. Here are a few tips on how to prevent falls in aging adults.

elderly couple walking prevent falls home access products

Encourage your aging parents to exercise regularly. The exercise does not have to be strenuous, but fitness activities that focus on improving leg strength and balance are helpful for aging adults. Walking, water workouts, and tai chi all utilize slow, graceful movements to improve strength, balance, coordination, and flexibility. A doctor can help recommend an exercise program or set your aging adult up with a licensed physical therapist for a custom exercise program.

Buy your aging parents sensible shoes. Suggest that your parents avoid high heels, floppy slippers, and slick-soled shoes that may increase the likelihood of a stumble. Instead, for birthdays and holidays, give your parents well-fitting, reliable shoes with non-skid soles that help maintain traction.

Ask their doctor or pharmacist to review their medications. Certain medications (such as sedatives and some kinds of antidepressants) may have side effects that increase the risk of falling, such as dizziness or drowsiness. A doctor can help review medications for these possible interactions and advise you and your parents on all options.

Ensure that your aging parent gets his or her eyes checked by an eye doctor annually. Eyeglasses or contacts prescriptions should be updated to optimize your parents’ vision. It may be helpful to get a pair of glasses with single vision distance lenses for seeing clearly in the distance or for reading objects up close.

Install home access products that help reduce falling and slipping hazards. There are many affordable, easy-to-install options to help keep your parents’ home safe for walking. Some of these assistive devices and home access products include handrails for stairs, nonslip treads for wooden steps, a toilet lift, grab bars and nonslip mats for the shower or tub, and a bath lift (for more information on the benefits of installing a bathtub lift, read our previous blog post here).

Remove hazardous materials from your parents’ home. Examples of such materials include clutter on the floor, loose rugs (which can be secured with double-stick tape) or floorboards, and electrical cords in high-traffic areas on the floor. You can also modify your parents’ home by storing clothing, dishes, food, and other important items within easy reach and immediately cleaning any spilled liquids, grease, or food.

Improve the lighting. Lighting up your parents’ home will help them avoid tripping on items that are difficult to see. Night lights can be placed in the bedrooms, bathrooms, and hallways, and lamps should be within reach of the bed for getting up in the middle of the night. Light switches should also be near stairs, and flashlights should be stored in easy-to-find places in case the power goes out.

 

Although slips and falls are hazardous to aging adults, with a little preparation and a few simple home modifications, you can help keep your parents safe by preventing falls in your parents’ home. For more information, please call us, and we’ll answer any of your questions.

Top Home Tech for Seniors [INFOGRAPHIC]

With innovations in health care, medicine, and nutrition, it’s no surprise that Americans are getting older. By 2030, nearly 20% of Americans will be over 65– and nearly 90% of them want to stay in their own homes as they age.

As aging in place continues to rise, seniors are increasingly looking towards technology to stay safe and connected. From personal alert systems to cell phones and tablets, seniors are embracing technology and all of its benefits. Whether aging seniors are tech-savvy, or prefer simple ways of communicating at home, these products and services can assist seniors with safety, entertainment, health/wellness, communication, and assistance.

Many of the most convenient technologies can be free, such as the Skype App for iPad (which allows users to make video or voice calls) or the Tek Partner Universal Remote Control (which is a large remote control with large buttons to help users read the buttons easily).

Other popular and useful technologies for a low price include the 5Star Medical Device Alert and Splash ($49.95), which allows users to connect with an agent who can provide help in dangerous situations, and the Jitterbug Cell Phone ($99 plus monthly calling plans), which is an easy-to-use cell phone for the visually impaired. For seniors and caregivers concerned about medication maintenance, the TabSafe dispenses and monitors use of medication, and it sends alerts to caregivers if the medication is refused or not taken. As an added bonus, the TabSafe is often covered by insurance and runs less than $100 a month for monitoring services.

One especially versatile piece of technology for seniors is the Apple iPad ($299 and up). With a larger screen than a cell phone and an easy-to-use touch screen interface, seniors and caregivers can download a wide variety of apps for entertainment, communication, and assistance.

For families who live far away from their senior or aren’t always able to communicate, there are many options for home safety systems for seniors aging at home.  The BeClose (prices starting at $399) uses wireless sensors to detect activity and send alerts if there is a sudden lack of activity. Similarly, MobileHelp (prices starting at $443.50) is a dual-use emergency contact device, using a mobile, GPS-connected emergency button that can provide information on someone’s location even if they are unable to communicate.

Technology for seniors aging at home can also help improve communication and cooking safety. The Telikin (starting at $699) is a senior-friendly computer system with software for communication pre-installed. For seniors who enjoy home-cooked meals, the Safe-T-Element cooking system (starting at $240) is a temperature-sensing plate system that is installed over stove burners and will automatically shut off the stove if dangerous temperatures are reached.

As America continues to age, these technologies will continue to help seniors age in place comfortably. Whether you’re a senior who wants to be able to use the television remote easily or you’re a caregiver who wants peace of mind knowing that your loved one is safe in their home, there’s a piece of technology that can help seniors, family, and caregivers to stay safe, in touch, and happy in your home.

*Products and prices may vary. Price and source information was gathered in May 2014. Check manufacturer websites for up-to-date information. home access products top tech for seniors and caregivers


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Which Power Mobility Chair is Right for Me?

When one begins to lose mobility while aging at home, a power mobility chair can help someone continue to live an independent lifestyle by allowing them to easily navigate different areas while also carrying items such as bags, groceries, and more. But how do you decide which powered mobility chair is right for you?

Power scooters are a good option for people who can sit upright for long periods of time and have the dexterity and hand strength to steer and operate controls. Scooters also work well if you plan on using the scooter to run errands or go shopping, especially if you buy a “travel” scooter that allows for easy transport.

power scooter home access products aging at home

A power wheelchair, on the other hand, may be your best bet if you need special seating options or if you have limited hand strength or cannot use your hands at all. Power wheelchairs also offer more seating and leg rest options; moreover, they have a smaller turning radius than scooters and can get you closer to a toilet or bathtub. Power wheelchairs are also sturdier and have enhanced safety features, such as the ability to know when you want to make a turn and purposely slow down to a safe turning speed.

Also, consider the type of terrain your power mobility chair will encounter. If you plan on using it to travel around the neighborhood or through grass, you may want to choose a four wheel scooter or a heavy duty scooter, making sure to pay attention to how much ground clearance the vehicle gets. If you can get around your house using a cane or a walker, the aforementioned travel scooter will help you travel outside the house. However, if you have a difficult time getting around your house, power wheelchairs usually have the smallest turning radius and will help you enter rooms and go down narrow hallways.

Once you’ve decided on a power scooter or a power wheelchair, there are still a few considerations before making your final purchase. First, you need to decide how much weight capacity your vehicle will need. Aside from body weight (which may rise as the vehicle is used more often), you’ll need to consider if you’ll be carrying things like an oxygen tank, shopping bags, or even a child on your lap.

You also need to think about where you’ll store the power chair and if you’ll need to transport your chair in a car. A larger size will probably not be able to be disassembled, and it may require a vehicle lift to transport. A travel scooter can easily be broken down and stored, but it may not meet your needs for activities like riding on grass. If you can afford it, multiple power mobility chairs are ideal so that you’re able to travel comfortably in every situation.

The options surrounding choosing a power mobility scooter or chair can be overwhelming, but we at HAP are here to help. Contact us today if you have questions or want help choosing the perfect power mobility chair for you.

How to Install a Bathtub Lift in 7 Easy Steps

How to install a bathtub lift

One of the biggest advantages of a bathtub lift is that it’s very easy to install. When the bathtub lift arrives in the box, it’s already about 95% assembled!

bellavita bathlift

There are only a few steps left for you to complete to ensure that your bathtub works properly, and here they are:

1. Open the bathtub lift box and unpack its contents.

2. With the bathtub lift on a flat surface, take the back portion and move it all the way towards the reclined position. This will prepare it to be locked in place.

3. Attach the upholstery. This is done by either snapping buttons on the upholstery to the bathtub lift or by pressing tabs in that will hold the upholstery in place.

4. Connect the hand control (which also doubles as the battery) to the bathtub lift and hold in the “up” direction until the lift has reached its upper limit.

5. If your bathtub lift has suction cups that are not already installed, install the suction cups now since the seat portion will be out of your way.

6. Bring the bathtub lift back down to its lowest reclined position and lay it down in the tub in a position that maximizes space.

7. Bring the bathtub lift back up towards the top until the side flaps are level with the rim of the tub.

 

Congratulations! You are ready to use your new bathtub lift! Once you have finished bathing, you can remove the controller and charge it in an outlet with the provided charger. Charge the controller between uses, and you’ll be able to enjoy soaking in your bathtub whenever you want, without interference.

If you have more questions about bathtub lifts, contact us today and we’ll gladly help you out.

The Benefits of a Bathtub Lift vs a Walk-In Tub

For an aging adult losing mobility, being able to bathe without help is key to maintaining a sense of independence and privacy. Moreover, a warm bath can help soothe aching muscles and joints and improve health. But when it comes to handicap bathroom solutions, many people are often confused by the difference between walk-in tubs and bath tub lifts.

Walk-in tubs are special tubs that have a door installed on the side so that a senior or someone handicapped can easily open the door and walk into the bathtub without slipping. However, there are many disadvantages that come with a walk-in bath.

First, walk-in baths require professional installation, which often comes at great cost (anywhere from $2,500 to $10,000). Also, using a walk-in bath can be uncomfortable; since you have to enter the tub and close the door before the water is turned on, and wait for the water to drain before exiting, you risk being cold or bathing in a temperature that’s too hot or too cold. Features that remedy this issue (fast-filling faucets, fast-moving drains, and water temperature controls) are often very costly to add on. Finally, unless you live in a retirement community, a walk-in bath will probably devalue your home if you ever decide to sell.

Bathtub lifts, on the other hand, work by carefully lowering the bather to the bottom of the bathtub and are an easy, less expensive alternative to walk-in bathtubs. With weight capacities of up to 375 pounds, bathtub lifts are light, portable, and easy to install. Because you can enter the tub after it’s filled up and leave the bath while there’s still water in the tub, a bathtub lift is also more comfortable than a walk-in bathtub for someone sensitive to temperature changes.

bellavita bathlift

Bathtub lift costs can vary depending on specific models, but they’re generally a fraction of the price of a walk-in bathtub. The seats are comfortable, slip-resistant, and are able to swivel, and reclining positions can be adjusted according to different preferences. The entire design is waterproof (including control unit), and many control units will only allow the seat to lower in the bath if the control has enough charge power left to lift the bathtub out.

When deciding how to adapt your home for an aging adult, you may consider walk-in tubs as an option. However, bathtub lifts are a cheaper, more efficient solution that will help your senior maintain independence. For more information about which bathtub lift is right for you, please contact us.