Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Balancing Act: Need for Home Modifications

"A Balancing Act" is an apt title for this article from Today’s Caregiver at Not only do you worry about your mom or dad’s loss of balance, but you also need to balance your protective measures with their tolerance for and adaptability to change. Timing is an equally important balancing act.

In her article, “A Balancing Act: Simple Steps to Help Seniors See the Need for Home Modifications,” Mary Becker-Omvig, MS, OTR-Lfa, gives a thorough, thoughtful overview of what you as caregiver need to balance in approaching the home modification issue, and she gives good suggestions for possible home modifications. I recommend reading the article at the hyperlink above.

I like that Becker-Omvig begins with a reminder that your parents are comfortable and already feel safe in their home. Persuading them that a change would be safer could be a challenge. Very true. I might add that sometimes your parent knows best. For example, after a knee replacement, my mother’s occupational therapy team sent her home from the rehab center with a bedside commode. My sister, mother, and I positioned this commode as we theoretically thought it would work best. My mother could get out of bed in the middle of the night and only have to turn 180 degrees to sit down on the commode. This seemed ideal. After one or two nights, however, our mother decided that this was not practical for her; and in fact, walking to the bathroom on her walker was more practical. The commode is now, sans bucket, over her toilet so that she doesn’t have to sit down so far and so that she has hand rails by her toilet. So be it. Not as we had planned, but Mom is happy and so far, safe. Two balancing acts right there: hers and ours.

I would also like to add to Becker-Omvig’s list of practical modifications. A caregiving agency nurse visited my mother’s home and insisted we move Mom’s dresser so that Mom would have a straighter shot from the bed to the bathroom in the middle of the night. We were for that. Mom pushed back. She didn’t want the dresser moved. She pointed out the dresser’s usefulness as something to grab if she did lose her balance. Instead, Mom had someone come and remove her bathroom door so that she didn’t have to negotiate that in the middle of the night. Score another one for Mom. Sometimes kids just have to listen to their parents.

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