If we’re lucky enough to reach old age, we’ll still have to face one of the modern era’s most daunting challenges: making sure that we have the right kind of senior health care for ourselves or our loved ones. But achieving this doesn’t mean you’ll have to compromise the quality of your life. The right approach makes all the difference.
First you need to take a realistic look at the needs you have to fill. How much independence can you or your loved one handle? What is the severity of the illness that requires care? What accommodations need to be made in the home so that the senior isn’t encumbered by stairs or inconvenient facilities? Safety always needs to be a major concern.
Even a chronic illness doesn’t mean a total loss of independence. If you can take care of your personal needs but can’t manage cooking, errands, and housework on your own, you could be fine with part-time help.
But if the illness renders you or your loved one incapacitated, you’ll need to find someone who is prepared to assist with healthcare duties. The in-home help will need to have some medical training, preferably as a licensed practical nurse or home health nurse. It is also preferable for them to have experience working with the elderly, since elder care differs greatly from caring for the young.
Staying at home can make the difference between maintaining a good attitude toward aging and giving up. Avoiding stairs and keeping the sleeping, bathing, and living areas centralized is important. If your home isn’t up to the task because it’s two stories or lacks proper facilities, some creative thinking and prudent renovations can be the solution.
Bathrooms can pose a problem, especially in two-story homes with the bedrooms upstairs. Likely the only bathroom downstairs will be a half bath, meaning there’s only a toilet and sink. This, too, can be surmounted by installing a walk-in shower with a seat.
You might want to consider installing a walk-in shower, even if there is a full bath on the ground level. Bathtubs can present difficulties for the elderly, and safely navigating someone who needs help bathing in and out of a tub can pose problems for the home helper.
Don’t hesitate to ask the advice of professionals, such as your doctor, or friends who have already gone through the experience of setting up senior home care for themselves or their loved ones. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel to make sure that every contingency is covered. Approaching the task with common sense and love will provide you and your family with a happy result.