AGING IN-PLACE and RECOVERING IN-PLACE

"We went through all of this with our Dad.   It started with Recovering In-Place at my sister's home to Aging In-Place there now."

The goal of Aging Parents Management is to offer information and resources to help you become better prepared the future care of your elderly parent.   However, the reality is we are never truly prepared for it.    Many times it happens unexpectedly as a result of a change in a parent's health situation.   This is usually how many of us find ourselves in this role for the first time.   According to statistics provided by the Area on Aging of Bucks County, patients are typically discharged from hospitals/rehab and return home to an untrained caregivers and an unprepared home environment.     This is exactly what happened to my sister and I when our Dad was released from Rehab following a stroke.   We were not prepared for any of it.     

This chain of events is what is known as "Recovering-In-Place."   It is a period of time when a person returns home from an extended hospital stay due to illness or injury to continue their recovery process.   This would include returning to their home or to yours temporarily or permanently.    Insurance companies typically cover hospital or rehab stay for only a certain period of time.  The expectation is for the person to finish recovering at home.  This is usually the time when the adult children come to realize that their home or their parents' home is unsuitable to accommodate any new physical limitations or health requirements of their parent.  It is important that before your parent leaves the hospital or rehab facility that you become involved in their therapy and discharge program.   When the parent attends a therapy sessions, so should you.   This will help you to better understand what limitations they may have.   It will be an opportunity to learn how best to "handle" and maneuver them safely.    Any form of training or information will help you become better prepared to care for your parent.  

"Aging In Place" is a term used to describe a person remaining in their residence as they age for as long as they are able to do so.  This would also include being able to receive any medical or health services and support that they might need over time as their situation changes.    Today, this is the decision that many of our parents are choosing as their long-term living arrangement.   It is a decision requires thought and planning.  It all starts with a conversation with your parents and an honest assessment of their home.    It is important to examine all areas of their home or yours to determine if they are able to live there short term or long term with any physical and health limitations.   Sometimes the home will make the decision for you, as it was our case.    (Read about our journey in our Blog.)    

GETTING READY FOR RECOVERING IN-PLACE AND/OR AGING IN-PLACE:

Performing a home safety evaluation by a healthcare professional is the first step when preparing for the return home.   This can be arranged through your parent's primary care giver or through discharge team or social worker following a hospital stay or rehab.  A physical therapist will visit the home to conduct a full safety evaluation and offer recommendations on ways to make the living conditions safer.    This is an invaluable service available just by asking for it and is covered by most insurances.    The other option is to hire a professional service specializing in occupational home modifications.

 
Stay connected wih others in this stage of their parets life.
Have you had the talk with your parents yet
  • TECHNOLOGY & GADGETS:   Technology provides so many innovative products, Apps and services to help support the Care Manager.    There are webcams that will allow you to keep a watchful eye on your parent, Apps to help you coordinate rides or other services, stylish smartwatches that act as emergency call buttons to other useful gadgets.   Visit HELPFUL APPS & GADGETS for more information about this topic.

  • EMERGENCY CALL-BUTTONSIf they live in your home and they sleep in a section of the home you would not hear them at night, consider purchasing an alert system which works like a door bell.    This is relatively in expensive. They press a button which can be transported/stationed (for example next to the bed) and it will alarm the secondary device.

  • ALARM SYSTEMS/HOME SECURITY SYSTEMS:  Some alarm systems commonly hard-wired in homes have ancillary products that handle emergency call systems and mobile camera devices.   Check with your provider.    Adding a gas/carbon monoxide detector hard-wired through your alarm company is also wise.   When you are away from the home and the alarm detects the presence of gas, it will send a direct alert to the fire company and they will get dispatched without hesitation!

  • CALL SYSTEMS/ALERTS:  These wearable and mobile Alert System can be a life saver.   Even routine tasks as sitting down onto the commode may end up in a life threatening situation.   If your parents still go out on their own, one of the benefits of this system is that it works outside of the home.    It has a cellular and GPS signal so that they can receive help from the push of a button no matter where they are.    

  • BATHING/BATHROOM TIME - Make your bathroom a safer place by:  installing support bars/handles in the tub/shower, use a shower chair, install an ADA height commode or purchase an ADA height toilet seat riser.   Consider a portable shower unit to avoid having to go up and down stairs to shower like the one pictured here.  Visit our Blog to read more about our experience with this shower unit and how it saved us from a $20K home renovation.  ​​Portable Shower Unit Available for Purchase here.

    • PERSONAL SPACE - Our parent(s) can be very modest.   It will be uncomfortable for you, also.   You may consider outsourcing the shower task to an agency that comes to visit once a week.   It takes away the anxiety and pressure from the Care Manager to do “everything”.   They also could handle other tasks such as light housekeeping and meal prep during their time slot so you can take a break!

    • BEDSIDE COMMODES/URINALS -  Acquiring a bedside commode or urinal and using liners is one safe option for use during day or night.     Clean up is safe and efficient.   Tying a string in loop on the side of the commode is an easy fix to hold toilet paper.  Limiting movement at night is especially wise.   Urinals for males can be placed next to the bed at night.    In the morning, it needs to be emptied.    Purchase gloves to keep things sanitary for the Caregiver or Care Manager.

  • DRESSING/PERSONAL GROOMING - Keep their clothes organized, close by bedside and laid out in order the same way every day.    What also helps with this is routine and repetition.  Choose easy elastic-wear pants and minimize clothing with zippers/buttons is helpful.   Select shoes that can easily slide on with or without socks, but yet secured with a Velcro strap can be the safest solution.  

    • ​For personal grooming needs, such as hair cuts, nail clipping, manicures, seek out services that will come out to the home; if your parent is unable to travel safely.    These types of home services are a new concept.   We we will have more  information about this as it becomes available.  

  • WHEELCHAIRS - For mobility challenged parents, acquire and light weight wheel chair or transport chair.   Keep it near the space where they predominately stay during day and night in the event of an emergency to exit the home quickly and safely.   Transport chairs are great to keep in the car for going to and from doctor appointments.   (You can find relatively inexpensive ones at 800-wheelchair.)

DID YOU KNOW?  When making purchases of mobility devices using Medicare/ durable medicare insurance, usually only ONE mobility device is covered per 5 year period.    A walker, cane, wheel chair, and scooter are all in the same class.   Hospitals and Rehab facilities offer canes and walkers that are paid for by insurances.  It makes better sense to just pay the out of pocket cost for the walker or cane and use the insurance to cover the cost of a wheel chair or scooter that range in the thousands of dollars!

  • STAIRS - Look for ways to minimize the need for the use of steps or stairs from your parents' daily routine.    If there is no way to avoid them to access sleeping or showering, make sure the stair rails are secure or have additional stair rails installed on the opposite wall.  Perhaps consider installing a Stair Chair.    They are an affordable option.   The best option is to reconfigure the home so that sleeping and bathing are on the first floor.   

DID YOU KNOW?  A Stairchair may be covered by Medicare.  Contact Medicare to see if you parent qualifies.  

  • CARPETS/RUGS:  Remove any rugs/throw rugs!    They are a tripping hazard.   

  • OBSTACLES:   Simplify the flow of the home/rooms.    Rooms that are filled with many pieces of furniture and accent pieces are difficult to navigate, especially, with a walker.   Remove items such as: ottomans, accent tables, vases, coffee tables, etc that may get in the way or cause confusion when trying to move around the home.

  • LIGHTING:  Make sure rooms have ample lighting and have switches that can be easily reached.   Table lighting or floor lamps can help but may be hard to operate if there are any physical limitations/issues.

  • BEDDING:  Evaluate your parents bed to make sure that they can get into and out of it easily.     Some beds are very high but they can be lowered with a "low profile" box spring or mattress.   In addition, a side bed rail will make it easier to get out of the bed and are available at your local pharmacy.  

  • COOKING:  If your parents still enjoy cooking for themselves, try to use appliances that have an automatic shut off feature.   Try to discourage the use of the stove as much as possible.    Nutrition is also a concern for parents living on their own.   Are they are eating?   Are they eating properly?  Are they able to handle meal preparation?   Can they navigate their kitchen safely?   For more about this topic, visit MEAL TIME

  • HOUSEKEEPING:  As our parents get older performing a simple task, such as: house cleaning, become harder to do and pose safety issues.    The two most utilized rooms in the home that require regular cleanings are the bathroom and the kitchen.   The next time you check in on your parents, take a closer look at their bathroom.   You will find, as we did, that it is not getting cleaned.   Home Care Services will do light house keeping but for a deep cleaning you will need to use a professional housekeeping service provider.  

  • MEDICATION MANAGEMENT:  One of the many responsibilities undertaken in this role is managing and understanding your parent's medication. You will find yourself spending hours researching about them. When you have a job or are attempting to manage the care of a loved one from afar, you DO not have time to become an expert in this. 

YourPharmacyAdvocate.com is a service staffed by professionals who will take away the worry of medication management.  They will also help with updating "the list", side effects, food interactions, OTC interactions and so much more. 

  • COMPANIONSHIP:    This is a tough one; especially if your parent was recently widowed.    Once we step into this role as the Care Manager, there does not seem to be time to just sit and chat with your parent.   It is important that they have interactions with someone other than you and they should not have to be alone.  This another benefit of having a Home Helper Service come visit a few times a week.   They not only help with certain tasks, they also form a relationship with your parent.   They become someone they can talk with and who can act as a buffer in this new Care Manager - Parent relationship.

    • Pets also make great companions.    They will help your parent build a new sense of purpose and to create a new routine.   

    • Senior Centers are another great option.    They provide adult day care services also.   Every community has them.   It is a place to go that offers activities, great lunches, outings and camaraderie.    If you parent is still active, they can become a volunteer at one or become a member for a nominal monthly fee.    

  • ROUTINES AND REPETITION:  Two things we found that helps in becoming acclimated to a new living situation or living with new limitations are routines and repetition.  This practice helps them to remember and know where to find things more quickly.   Plus, this helps to build confidence. 

    • Make it a habit to place your their things in the same spot every time.   For example, when you lay out their clothes, place things in the same order- starting on the left place undergarments, then socks, pants, and so on.    When dining, place utensils, drinking glasses, etc in the same manner at every meal.    

    • Schedule tasks such as showers or hair salon/barbershop visits the same time each week or each month.    This gives your parent something to look forward to and helps them to keep track of time/days of week, etc.   

Personal Issues when caring for a parent

"I had to work so Dad was left in our home alone.   One day when I called, he did not answer.   I called neighbors to go check on him.   This is when I decided to put webcams in my home."

Technology and Aps are tools to help wit managing the care of you parents.
Find ways to address mealtime issues when caring for your parent
Home Helpers an in home care giver service.

"Pat is more than just my dad's Home Care Giver.    She gives me the opportunity to be an active Mom at my kid's school."

"We were days away from an extensive home renovation to add a first floor bath for our Dad  until we found this portable shower unit."  

What about my life?
Portable Shower Unit

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Disclaimer:   The content on this website does not constitute legal advice.   A qualified attorney in your state should be consulted concerning any legal questions, issues or matters that you have.

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