From Care Mountain‘s 31+ years of management experience providing in home senior care, we have been able to observe what handicap home modifications have been most effective and offered the best return for those families trying to provide at home care for an elderly loved one. This article will focus on the most common modifications we have seen meeting the aforementioned criteria, and will not be suitable for every person’s unique needs. Care Mountain home health care provides free in home care assessments to Dallas, TX area families that can help them understand what types of handicap home modifications may be most beneficial for their particular situation.
The most common modifications made have been toward accessibility for entering and exiting the home. If an elderly person no longer drives then they are more likely to have help when entering and exiting, which can allow less need for modifications – especially if not wheel chair bound. In these cases, emphasis has been on adding strategically placed grab bars and/or enhancing grab railings. For those wheelchair dependent and/or not likely to have assistance when entering or existing the home, then a wheel chair ramp has been common. Improved lighting and marking the stair edges for better visual differentiation have also been common inexpensive adaptions.
In my 31+ years providing in home health care to the elderly, it has been rare to see any family need to make significant home modifications to accommodate a handicapped elder, which is good news since many fear the need to do so. We have seen that adaptive medical equipment (often covered under Medicare) often alleviates the need for any handicap home modifications. When adaptive medical equipment doesn’t suffice, the person is normally at a stage requiring the assistance of a caregiver, which will continue to alleviate any need for major home modifications. To make this point, let’s look at bathroom accessibility and functionality (the other most common area of handicap adaptability concern) for a client named Rosemary we provided home health care in Irving, TX.
Rosemary’s home, like a lot of homes built before 1960 in Irving, have very narrow bathroom doorways and tub/showers inside the bathrooms, so they can seemingly pose some challenges to a frail elderly person. Rosemary was frail and used a walked to ambulate. Her walker was small enough to fit through her narrow bathroom door. Strategically placed grab bars, a hand held shower head and shower seat allowed her to bathe herself. A toilet seat riser with grab bars allowed her to toilet herself. As Rosemary became frailer, she hired a Care Mountain home health care caregiver in Irving to assist her with showering. At that point Rosemary could still ambulate, but had difficulty stepping over and into her tub shower. The caregiver used a sliding shower chair (covered under Medicare) to slide her into the tub shower where she bathed herself. When Rosemary got to the point where she could not walk far, then a special commode chair on wheels (much narrower than a wheel chair) was used to wheel her through the narrow bathroom door and up to the sliding shower chair to be bathed. The commode chair was then left near where she would spend her other time, so she would not have far to walk for toileting. This worked until she got to the point where she could no longer bare her weight to stand, and could not support herself in a sitting position. At that point, which was not for a long time, she was bed bound with her toileting and hygiene needs happening in bed most of the time,
The clients we worked with that made significant home modifications were almost always those that were accommodating a medical condition from earlier adulthood such as in home care for multiple sclerosis. The typical aging process we have seen goes to using adaptive medical equipment, then adding help from a caregiver and finally to bed bound care – all avoiding the costly expense of major handicap home modifications.
Occupational therapists can also be a great source for learning about what types of adaptive medical equipment/aides can best benefit your individualized situation. Some noted local occupational therapists can be found at Outpatient Physical Medicine at Methodist Dallas, Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation, Encompass Home Health, Pate Rehabilitation, UT Southwestern Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Texas Health Inpatient Rehabilitation, Accel Rehabilitation Hospital of Plano, Senior Care Centers, HealthSouth and Vista Rehab Partners,
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