By Doug Sheaffer

Case Manager

Before we say goodbye to National Family Caregiver month, a few thoughts.

We've looked at some resources, contact information and caregiving from the point of the view of the caregiver and the client/family member. We've also brushed lightly across some processes and places to start. And we've remarked that often you don't even know what to ask about.

Let's close out this month with looking at a few considerations. Again, the scenario: Dad's health is failing. He can't be totally independent anymore, and needs some help - and possibly some supervision. Home health agencies may be referred by Dad's doctor, particularly after a hospital or convalescent center stay. They are able to assess not only Dad's health needs, but also his environmental needs; that is, the need for modifications and/or assistive devices in the home. If home health agencies are not involved, guess what? You can do this!

I know it seems that you might not have the expertise, but I've found that family members often know more than they think they do. You've watched Dad; watched him get around the house, get to the store and the doctor, fix himself something to eat and so on. While we refer to these as ADL's (assisted daily living tasks), they can also be called GTTD (getting through the day)!

How does Dad do when he gets out of his chair? How about sitting back down? If he has problems here, he also may be having problems in the bathroom - and the seating in there is a lot harder than the recliner! Has Dad been looking less groomed? He may be uncertain about keeping his balance getting into and out of the shower or bath. How about his weight? Losing weight may indicate a change of eating habits due to some memory loss or a fear of leaving burners on. Weight increase might be due to drug reactions or other health problems. Does Dad seem to walk around a lot less? Maybe he's having a balance problem, or is in pain when walking - or again, is concerned about falling. (And chances are, he doesn't want you to know because he thinks you'll just worry more!) And what about hobbies? Did Dad like to go out for a drive, or visit friends, but seems to be a real homebody now? He may be concerned about his ability to drive, or tires much too easily.

Lots can be done. Grab bars can be installed to help in the bathroom, or getting into and out of bed. A raised toilet seat and a bathbench might also help. And in the bath, how about a handheld shower unit to go with the bench? If Dad loves recliners, how about a lift-chair that helps him to his feet? Is a cane (a four-footed "quadcane" can be very steady) or a walker needed? Are there groups in the area that offer transportation for those who no longer drive? How about some sort of senior visitor program? If Dad requires oxygen, travel bags with small units are available so he can still get out of the house.

Fraternal organizations (such as the Kiwanis in our area) may have many of these devices available on a loaner status. Others may offer other services. Again, give us a call.

And by the way - see? I told you that you knew more than you thought!

Senior Information & Assistance

Ilwaco: 642-3634/(888) 571-6558

Raymond: 942-2177/(888) 571-6557

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