Given the choice, most residents of Mount Vernon and elsewhere would prefer to stay in their own homes as long as possible, even when they are receiving hospice care.
Although there are some advantages of relocating to an assistive care community, such as greater levels of care, better security, and access to more social activities, many residents would appreciate the option of being able to remain right in their comfortable, familiar surroundings without dealing with the stress of needing to relocate.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care and Hospice specialize in working with clients who want to keep their independence as much as possible. Some may be living with family members, friends, or caregivers, but others are living by themselves.
With some clients, they may eventually need to relocate due to health reasons, concerns about their safety, or a wish for more social interaction. But until then, it’s an opportunity to enjoy being living by themselves.
But even in this type of environment, there should be some rules established so they’re safe and family members also know they’re safe. It’s especially important in hospice care situations, where people’s health can be more fragile, yet they still prize staying at home.
Some of these include:
- Having access to care. In many home health situations, a caregiver, nurse, or aide may schedule a visit a few times a week to check on someone or offer therapy. This gives the client something to look forward to but also means there’s a period of time when there isn’t anyone present. When moving into a hospice situation, it might be an opportunity to consider increasing the frequency of visits. Someone could come daily, or even a live-in arrangement. Or a family member or loved one can take on this role to provide basic caregiving duties but still the professional home health care staff can come as scheduled.
- A way to get help as needed. Even caregivers can’t be around all the time. They may be in another room, sleeping, or they may be outside or running errands. So, if an emergency occurs, such as a fall, they need to be able to let someone know quickly. Shouting may not work in these situations either. When planning ahead for someone to be living independently, there should be a system in place to let people know that an emergency has taken place and help is needed. This could be an intercom system in some or all the rooms or a monitor that someone wears that can contact caregivers or medical services. It could also be a device that detects changes in health in case the person falls unconscious and can’t ask for help.
- A safe environment. Part of living alone is being able to navigate your environment safely. So it’s important to make sure there aren’t hazards that can cause accidents. For instance, while area rugs may look nice, they may cause canes or walkers to catch, causing a fall. Every room of the house should receive an inspection in terms of overall safety or hazards that can be minimized, such as adding handles in the bathtub and shower to make it easy and safe to get in and out. Non-stick surfaces also can be added to the shower/tub to reduce the risk of slipping and falling.
- General maintenance. Beyond safety-proofing the house, people can look for other opportunities to make sure it’s structurally intact and any maintenance is taken care of. Someone receiving hospice care may not be able to perform a lot of handy tasks, but they can be done by others. This will give the client peace of mind and allow them not to have to worry about tasks getting done, or try to do them themselves and possibly hurt themselves in the process. These may also have safety benefits as well, such as changing light bulbs or making sure outside paths are clear of weeds.
- Emergency information. Caregivers, family, or other visitors should be able to have easy access to details and vital documents in case they need to call for help. It could include a primary health provider, a hospice nurse, or a key person from the hospice/home health organization. It also should include information about family members/close friends, personal contacts, and even details about whether they want to be resuscitated or not if they’re hospitalized and not able to give consent to life-saving measures. A list of medications or medical conditions can also be useful if there are medical issues and the person calling may not know these details.
There’s plenty of online resources out there for people wanting to improve the safety of their homes and make it comfortable and safe for people living there. Plus, a home health or hospice organization you work with will likely have a checklist of things to keep in mind when a senior wants to live independently.