March 23, 2021
Providing round-the-clock care for a loved one is a significant commitment. Beyond the mental and emotional investment required to be a caregiver, you will also need to make some investments in your home. Whether you’re providing care for an elderly loved one, someone recovering from an illness, or palliative care, here are five essential ways to prepare your home for a positive caregiving experience:
Those receiving care at home will spend a lot of time there. Making their space as comfortable and welcoming as possible can go a long way! If possible, set up a first floor bedroom so stairs can be avoided and include some simple comforts, such as a television or their favorite art or decorations, that will make their time more enjoyable. Don’t forget the comfort of the caregiver, either: couches, comfortable chairs, and plenty of lighting will make it easier to provide your loved one with the care they require.
Be sure to consider the mobility challenges of the person receiving care. While a first floor living area and bedroom is ideal, this setup is not always possible. In this scenario, consider a stair lift to help your loved one get up and down from their living area to the first floor with ease. Entering and exiting the house are equally important to plan for — ramps, in lieu of stairs, can make that process much simpler. In addition to access points, inspect the living area for any other challenges for mobility, such as tripping hazards or slippery surfaces, and address them appropriately.
The bathroom will be one of the most frequented rooms of the person receiving care. It can also be one of the more treacherous areas of the home, but a few small adjustments make a big difference. Install grab bars near the toilet and in the shower to help with sitting and standing. Since the bathroom can often be wet and slippery, anti-slip padding or materials are also important to keep the room safe and usable. If the person receiving care has difficulties standing for a prolonged period of time, consider a shower chair or hand-held shower to make bathing easier.
Even the most dedicated caregiver can’t be with someone 24 hours per day, 7 days a week. You will need to have a system in place for communication when you are unable to be with the person receiving care. An intercom system is a useful way to maintain contact throughout the house; however, they can be expensive to install. For a more cost-effective solution, consider investing in some baby monitors.
Hopefully you have already taken the time to do a basic safety review of your house in the past, but the decision to provide care is a good time for a review. Inspect all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are still functional and make sure there are fire extinguishers readily available for use throughout the home. Set aside some time before care begins to review your home’s first aid kit and basic medical supplies. A well-stocked first aid kit can be a life-saving resource during an emergency.
Preparing your home before care begins can make for an easier transition and will also ensure that your loved one feels relaxed in their new environment. Caregiving is a big responsibility — if you feel overwhelmed, your health care provider should be able to refer professional resources that can support both the preparation of your home and care itself.