Receiving hospice care at home is simply not an option for many people unless changes are made to provide a safe place in which to receive care. Some changes are obvious and easy; more complex alterations may require professional construction help.
Of course, deciding whether to invest the time, expense, and disruptiveness in making more ambitious changes will depend on a number of factors — including the patient’s condition and whether it is likely to deteriorate quickly.
Depending on the patient’s needs, hospice workers might recommend and provide various equipment and supplies that might make it easier for the individual to get comfort and care, including a:
- Hospital bed
- Specialized mattress
- Table that swings out over the bed
- Bedside commode
- Urinal and bedpan
- Wash basin
- Oxygen tank and dispenser
It can be difficult to accommodate all the paraphernalia that may be required or desirable to have close at hand, especially for those who want to keep some semblance of hominess in the environment. Small touches — a favorite blanket, scent, moisturizer, lip balm, or pictures — can help.
Making a Home Safe
A number of free and easy changes can help eliminate potential safety hazards from a home, from removing scatter rugs to moving the furniture to low-traffic areas of the room. And many other alterations cost very little and likely require no outside help — such as increasing lighting levels, applying nonskid adhesive strips in bathtubs, installing anti-scald devices on faucets, and moving shelving to eye level.
For a comprehensive checklist designed to help make a home safer for seniors and home care patients, see the National Resource Center on Supportive Housing & Home Modification’s “Safety for Older Consumers.”
Modifying and Remodeling
Many homes will need some modifications, from slight to substantial, to become suitable spots for aging or ailing residents. For example, a bedroom may need to be relocated to a main level of a house for those who have difficulty climbing stairs. Hallways may need to be widened to accommodate a wheelchair. Or handrails may need to be installed on a porch or stairway to provide a steady grasp when climbing.
Prompted by the growing number of people who wish to remain and receive care at home, or “age in place,” an industry of specialists — general contractors, designers, architects, and health care consultants — can help assess structural changes that need to be made and to accomplish that remodeling.
One of the first collaborations developed the Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) program to address the growing number of consumers requiring home modifications. CAPS providers are trained in remodeling projects and solutions to common barriers for older or frail residents. For more information and to find a CAPS in your area, go to the National Association of Home Builders’ web page “Aging-in-Place Remodeling.”
Financial Help with Home Modifications
A number of programs offer loans, reduced rates, or free services with home modifications.
To find resources for seniors who need to repair or modify their homes or make them safer and more accessible as they age, contact the local Area Agency on Aging.
For more information, see these free consumer advice booklets from the National Aging in Place Council: