Continue Reading Gail Sheehy writes about Caregiving in Parade Magazine" />

Gail Sheehy writes about Caregiving in Parade Magazine

by Louis on September 10, 2007

Gail Sheehy does a great job highlighting caregiving issues in yesterday’s Parade Magazine. She cites important information about who is a caregiver, the value of caregiving, the cost to income and the cost to well being. The title of the article asks what we can do. I will add some answers to her good article.

Gail does not talk specifically about Aging in Place, Universal Design and Home Modifications so that is where I can fill in. I might be answering the rephrased question: How do home modifications contribute to helping caregivers?

1. Home Modifications reduce injuries for those who are vulnerable to falls. There is data out on this from Bill Mann at University of Florida and others but you can easily get it intuitively. A bathroom with no step into the shower means less trip hazard. Grab bars give you comfort and security and help avoid falls. Using a full-blown bath strategy like a rolling shower commode chair to access the toilet, shower and sit at the sink avoids all transfers in the bathroom so the chance of injury is minimal. A well designed bathroom provides all of these. Improving rails or eliminating steps at the entry or within the house has similar impact.

When injuries are reduced misery and financial costs are reduced. This helps us manage our personal and national budgets, but most importantly keeps people safely in their homes meaning fewer emergency and long term burdens on family caregivers.

2. Home Modifications make a better environment for returning home from accident or illness. Returning to a not-modified home may be impossible. A home where maneuvering spaces are better and where entering the house, moving around and the bedroom and bathroom are prepared for someone with reduced abilities means folks can return home where they will recover faster (and cheaper) easing the burden during and following recovery.

3. Universal Design based Home Modifications are better environments for safe and ergonomic caregiving. Even if we reduce risk, stuff happens. This will be increasingly true as our society ages. When someone needs assistance it makes more sense to give it in an environment where this possibility was considered than in one where it was never imagined. The caregiver’s workload is eased. Caregiver injuries are reduced. Whether they are paid or family.

One way we can help our nation’s caregivers is more home modifications. There are lots of avenues to making this happen. Programs at every level of government, non-profit and business are emerging to help caregivers. Gail Sheehy mentions some in her good article. There is lots more we can do.

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