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Home For the Holidays

Posted December 12, 2012 in Advice Column

It’s the time of year when family and friends gather. With adult children moving away from parents and extended family, it can be several months between face-to-face visits.

You may notice that some of these family members may not be as spry as you remembered from your last visit. If you politely ask how they are doing, the response will most likely be, “I’m just fine,” or “I can take care of everything, it just takes a little longer to get things done.” The truth is, most people are not willing to tell even close family members that they are having difficulty doing things they once accomplished with ease. It’s important to let this person know that you are concerned about his or her quality of life and safety.

Some things you may observe to let you know they are struggling on their own are:

• The lack of personal hygiene and an unkempt appearance.

A home health aide can assist with bathing, dressing, personal cares and dolaundry. Occupational therapy can improve fine motor skills needed to dress and do chores around the house.

• A messy or cluttered house can lead to trips and falls that have serious consequences.

A registered nurse will do a full home safety check and fall risk assessment. A care plan will be customized to address specific needs.

• The average senior takes six to 12 medications. Taking multiple medications at various times of the day can be overwhelming.

A registered nurse can set up daily or weekly medications or arrange for an automatic medication dispenser.

• Trouble getting in and out of chairs, avoiding going up and down stairs and difficulty getting in and out of a car indicates a loss of strength and balance.

Physical therapy can increase range of motion and overall strength. A therapist can provide instruction on the use of assistive devices such as canes, walkers and reaching devices.

• Reluctance to drive or unexplained dents and scratches on their car can be an indication of loss of vision and motor skills.

Occupational and physical therapy can improve fine motor skills and range of motion needed for driving.

• Very dry skin may indicate dehydration.

A registered nurse can develop care plans to avoid skin break down and urinary tract infections.

Home health care can be a cost-effective solution to providing the extra care needed to keep your family members in their home safely as long as possible. A complimentary in-home health assessment by a registered nurse will identify care needed to give you peace of mind and let them thrive at home.

Information provided by Donette Klepsteen R.N., COS-C, Iowa Home Care Administrator, 515-576-2273.

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