What Seniors with Home Health Need to Know Nurses Guild Post
After speaking with a home health care nurse, she cited some very important questions to ask yourself, a friend or elderly loved one who is receiving home health or home therapy. While these questions apply mainly to those with home health care or frequent house calls or therapy, some apply to all seniors living in the home.
– Do you know the medications you are taking? While this seems like it would be easy to answer, many older adults suffer from multiple conditions that require them to take a large amount of prescriptions. It is important that they know the function of each pill, the side effects, active ingredients and instructions for when and how to take the medication. They must also know medications that have harmful reactions with each pill, so they don’t mistakenly take something over-the-counter that causes dangerous interactions. It is not ok for them to rely on their home health nurse or therapy care provider to give them medication each day unless they are not mentally capable. With that said, if you are the primary care provider in the family, do you know the medications they are taking? There should always be a way to quickly communicate the medication in their body in case emergency care is needed.
– Are you knowledgeable about the medical care equipment in your home? Many times, home health care equipment is left in the home for therapy while the nurse or doctor is not present providing care. It is very important they know what each machine does, when it needs servicing, how long they can go without danger to their life, safety precautions around the equipment and who to contact if something goes wrong. These are all questions they can ask their home health care provider or nurse who comes for a house call or maintenance on the device.
– Do you have an emergency plan? Especially If the live alone, do they know who to call if they need help or are experiencing a medical emergency? In an ideal world, seniors should have wireless phones placed around the house on a table that is not too high to reach from the ground. There are also numerous portable devices that they can constantly carry with them to alert a local care provider of an emergency. Even if two seniors are living in the home, they need to have a plan. You can never be too prepared, especially when it may come down to life or death in an emergency situation. For those receiving home health care for limited mobility, plan how to get out of the house when an emergency such as a fire occurs. Know what equipment and medications you need in case you have to leave the house quickly. Have a backup dosage of medication in a purse or bag that is easily accessible. Set up a phone tree with family or friends in case of medical emergency or natural disaster. While people of all ages should have an emergency plan for the home, seniors, especially those requiring medication and home health care and equipment, have extra physical considerations to make. It is very important to physically write it down, so it can be referenced and refreshed as needed.
What other questions should seniors receiving home health care or house calls for therapy be able to answer?