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Have medical equipment, supplies and pill bottles started to take over your loved one’s home? No one wants their home to look or feel like a hospital, especially those who are receiving home health care. Studies have shown that making a special effort to keep your loved one’s surroundings feeling homey—and not medicalized—can improve their ability to adapt to and recover from stress, leading to better health. Here are some quick and easy makeover ideas.
Research shows that hanging art in a health care environment can help reduce stress and speed the healing process. No need for fancy, art-gallery stuff: Frame a grandchild’s artwork or pages from your loved one’s old sketchbook, or even some cutouts from old calendars and magazines.
If your loved one is now mostly (or always) on one floor or one room of the home, redecorate accordingly. For instance, if most of the family snapshots hang in the living room but your mom is mostly in her bedroom, move them to her. Also, make sure there’s a selection of books, a deck of cards, photo albums, a radio and the like in an easy-to-reach spot.
Place plants and flowers indoors; they actually help clean the air and brighten the feel of any room. Peace lilies, in particular, can remove contaminants from the air and do not require much light or water to survive. If your loved one cannot care for a plant, however, silk flowers will bring color and a glimpse of the outdoors in.
There’s no better time to have a home professionally cleaned than when a loved one has become more homebound. A maid service can help everyone start off on a fresh and clean foot. In addition, it may be a good idea to hire a professional organizer (preferably one who works with the elderly) to help rethink where everything is placed so it’s more convenient for an aging parent.
If your loved one’s surroundings are suffering from a stale, "soupy" smell, open the windows on both sides of the room and allow cross ventilation. If it’s too cold for this simple solution, try an air purifier, or pour a bit of vinegar or baking soda in a small bowl in an out-of-the-way spot to help absorb smells from the air. Fragrance sticks can also add a pleasant scent to the air.
According to a 2004 survey by the Home Safety Council, falls are the leading cause of home injury amongst seniors. To help make your loved one’s home safer, install handrails on both sides of stairs; use night lights in bedrooms, halls and bathrooms; secure or remove small rugs; use a nonslip mat in the tub and nonskid bath mat on the floor; put grab bars in the tub and shower; and clear the space of clutter.
To find out how VNSNY can help your loved one, please call 1-800-675-0391.