Creative and Affordable Home Safety Ideas
—thoughts from a fellow journeyman
I often get requests for ideas on how to affordably and effectively avoid pain, suffering and expenses associated with homecare. Last month, I gave a presentation on “trip & fall prevention” and highlighted the following:
- Throw out the throw rugs! Anything loose on the floor must go, especially when vision is impaired.
- Communication is a major challenge in homecare. Remember, there are three elements of communication, a SENDER, A MESSAGE and a RECEIVER. I devised a simple, inexpensive solution to frequent “disconnects” at home. For a nominal cost (tag and garage sales are excellent places to save money for these items), invest in:
- A “baby monitor”—this handy device listens to whomever it is near; it serves as your EAR to those you serve and for whom you care. There is a monitor and a receiver, the latter is what YOU as the caregiver, must keep with you at all times. Frequently, there are receivers that clip onto a belt.
- An intercom system, usually consisting of 3-4 separate units that send and receive.
Application of both systems:
Because I could not rely on my Mother to activate any device, anything I utilize must be automatic (self-activated). Hence, I set the monitor next to Mom’s bedside to hear everything she uttered. The sounds from this unit was communicate to the receiver, (usually on the belt of the caregiver). The (3 or 4) intercom units were set around the home in strategic positions so that whenever the caregiver heard from Mom, it was broadcast throughout the home on the intercom units. The caregiver, would merely reply to Mom on the closest intercom unit (that were dispersed around the home).
Result: Awesome, reliable and inexpensive communication system that maintained 30-second response time to my Mom whenever she required help.
Lighting in the Bedroom
The last tip I have today is a wonderful preventive technique regarding lighting in one’s home, especially bedroom. Mom was visually impaired..and subsequently tripped over her commode through NO fault of hers! I spoke with her on various solutions and, after I nailed the commode to the wall, I configured holiday lighting under her bed…soft pastel colors that were safely out of touch/tripping yet could light up the entire floor with the activation of a simple foot switch (common during the holiday season to activate Christmas trees). I installed the switch on the edge of Mom’s bed, on the railing so she could easily turn them on and off without disturbing Dad (who at the time, was alive and responsible for the lighting for Mom 24/7). As Mom’s vision deteriorated, I changed the color of the lights under the bed to WHITE. As her mobility and cognitive acuity changed, I automated the lights so that a direct light was targeted towards the commode…activated by motion detector…so NO action was needed on her part!
Result: Prevention of future issues, pain and suffering. Dad slept better and Mom was safer. Mom retained her pride and dignity….priceless at any age.
Be well…strive to be happy….savor every moment.
Joy to Your World —thoughts from a fellow journeyman
The movie, “The Bucket List”, had many wisdoms; as you might recall, there was a segment referring to the meaning of life…and joy. The value of life is based on two questions:
….did we find joy in our life
…did we bring joy to others?
This movie made a real impression on me, (and undoubtedly many others).
Be Mindful for Unexpected Joy
Having been on the “senior circuit” for over 20 years, I give programs on my photography of ghost towns, steam boats and steam trains. However, for certain audiences, I am often asked just to sing! In this recent performance, a dignified resident of this facility got up and began to dance after about 30 minutes…and dance she did. She danced at every table; she danced slow….she danced fast…not out of desperation or imposition, but out of sheer joy! Although her speech was somewhat limited and faltering, she approached me within about a foot and managed to utter “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”! (Assuming it was a song request, I complied and did my best for her.) She was a perfect example of unabashed, sheer joy; especially when I was later informed that she is 100 years young! (A poster child for graceful aging if ever I saw one!)
About a year ago, I was asked by my church to sing for a senior suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. (As a Stephen Minister, I am asked to minister at times for those suffering grief and loss. I often bring my guitar and sing.) This gentleman did not always remember the name of his wife, who was his primary caregiver. He could not speak and consequently, he had a very empty existence with his condition at the time. They both lived in their own home with no other caregivers. His wife did all she could to provide support, food and comfort but was clearly suffering herself from the caregiving burden. Soon after my beginning to play, he began to sing with me! (I was aware of the therapeutic benefit of listening to and actually singing songs. As a matter of fact, experience has shown that certain patients with Parkinson ’s disease often respond well when they actually SING songs; rather than merely listening to recorded or live performances. Tremors often stop when patients sing!) What started as a brief performance, lasted 45 minutes! During my final number, (True Love originally performed by Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly. This was my mom’s favorite song), he looked over to his wife and winked at her!! This priceless and timeless moment was never caught on film, phone or tape, but will forever be etched in my memory! I am unsure whether his wife even saw his tender act of timeless love, but he knew that I saw it. Although he might not have remembered her name, he knew she was important to him and that he loved her. After the song, I left in silence, since that was his comfort and familiarity. I have not heard from him since that visit.
In closing, (not conclusion), be mindful of opportunities to savor joy in your life…and the chance to bring joy to others that you might encounter along your personal journey. As I often say in my workshops—be relevant, make a difference!
This blog was posted at the Meadows at Glenwyck Retirement Community site January 2016.
October 2015 blog on “You Are What You Eat”
This is a recent profile that was published focusing on my aging advocacy and writing. For convenience, I have attached the link to the paper and attached a PDF file.
Life is a journey, not a destination. The true test of one’s mettle is not in the duration or ease of the trip, but rather how we navigate the potholes, detours and speedbumps along the way.
CHUCK OAKES has extensive experience in assisting individuals and corporations ‘in transition’ and change. Specifically, he has helped workers with disabilities and those who have lost their jobs find employment. His consulting now addresses the ‘aging of America’ and its impact on families and corporations.
“Do what you can, with what you’ve got “while you’ve got it!” Life can change in a heartbeat!
Professional and Personal Philosophy
Individual wellness and professional success are enhanced when principles of applied technology, integrated medicine and universal design are blended in a cohesive recipe.
Visit Caring Today at www.CaringToday.com