If a commode is used, an extension that raises the seat to a more comfortable height should be used if necessary. The normal toilet seat is a little low when an elderly person tries to sit down and could give them a feeling of falling before they reach the seat. Placing a grab bar next to the toilet is also a good idea, it gives the patient a sense of stability.
If the patient can take a shower alone, a grab bar should be placed on the wall to steady the patient when bathing, and another grab bar can be attached to the edge of the tub to help them enter and leave the tub. Be sure to place a rubber mat on the floor of the shower to prevent slipping, a bath mat with rubber backing on the bathroom floor for when they step out of the shower.
There are also stools that have an extra seat that extends outside the tub, so the patient can slide into the tub without a problem, if they are unsteady. There is a slit for the shower curtain, so the water stays in the tub.
If the patient has a hobby, now is the time to pursue it, especially if it can be done in bed. Many hobbies can be done in a sitting position, with a bed table across the lap. Crossword puzzles are a pleasant way to pass time, as well as knitting, crocheting, and embroidery or needle point, if that is their choice. Keep a variety of hobby items close to the patient, so they can reach them.
Also put some thought into choosing the most appropriate bed for your guest. If you can’t use their own bed, there are hospital beds available for rent, normally through home-care facilities at the hospital. Some home-care items are paid for by Medicare. Be sure to check with the hospital social worker to find out exactly what you can acquire through Medicare. There is no sense buying or renting items that are available through their insurance plan. The cost of caring for a loved one at home is high enough without the added burden of buying items that are covered by insurance. Check everything. You will be surprised by how many home healthcare items are covered by Medicare. We received a hospital bed, commode, walker and oxygen, with Medicare picking up the majority of the cost. Mother’s supplemental insurance paid for most of the difference.
It is also important to have a well lit room. If there are windows, be sure the curtains are open. There is no substitute for sunshine to keep a cheery atmosphere in a sickroom.
Green plants, placed where they can be seen not only are cheerful but help clean the air. They keep the room fresh and bring a little of the outdoors inside.
Some people enjoy television, but don’t forget music. A radio or stereo system can soothe the patient and perk up their spirits. If you cannot find their favorite music on the radio use CD’s to fill the room with music. Music sometimes evokes beautiful memories, bringing back the past with warm feelings.
PATIENT’S ROOM CHECKLIST
- On the main floor
- Bathroom close by
- Their own bed used if possible
- Guard rails if needed
- TV remote, telephone, books, tissues and wastebasket close to the patient
- Fresh water, glass, and straw always next to patient
- Patient surrounded with their personal belongings
- Had rails, toilet extension, and stool for the shower
- Their favorite chair
FOR THE CAREGIVER
Try to get the help of your loved one in arranging their room. After all, they want everything where they can reach it or at least find it.