No Longer Needed

What do you do with medical equipment when the need is no longer a need in your home?  So many times the shower chair, the walker or wheelchair, the medical bed, the canes, the ramps, any thing else you can think of are purchased to help care for your loved ones.  It can be like a well equipped clinical setting.

And then…when the need is no longer present, the equipment can be moved along to others who are in need.  Some may purchase from you and get a “good deal,” others may be in need of a donation.

I have seen many people benefit from passed along medical equipment.  It is amazingly helpful, economical and generous.  Let me know what other options you have tried and we can add it to this list.

Below are quick option points to consider: 

*  Craig’s list/local consignment (on-line)

*  Contact Assisted Living Facilities and ask about placing an ad where their residents have access to see

*  League of Human Dignity writes a newsletter every other month and can run an ad for you

*  Local Veteran’s Organizations (ex:  Legion Auxiliary has woman fighting for soldiers needs)

*  _______________?  What are your ideas to share with Conversations Readers?

 

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Medicet

There is a medication administration tool called a Medicet.  Most people know it as a “pill-box.”  This tool is found in the pharmacy area and there are several options to choose from.  It all depends on details.  I’d say take some time and go look at these choices.

Details:

What size do you need?  Pills once a day?  Twice a day?  How many pills need to be in each slot?  Is there enough room?

How’s the person’s vision and or finger dexterity who needs to open each slot?  There are tiny ones, medium size and very large slots.

Who’s going to fill the medications in to the pill-box?  The one taking the meds, the family or how about a nurse to do the honors?

You can get different colored medicets for different times of the day.  Some of the medicets designed for multiple doses per day can get a little complicated.  Keep it all simple and clear.

IMPORTANT FACT, medication errors are one of the most common reasons people end up in the emergency room!  Monitoring medications through a medicet may be a way to provide safe and clear administrations of routine pills.

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Head of Bed

There are reasons to have the head of the medical bed elevated:

#1  This helps when eating in bed.  People need to be in the most natural position for swallowing safely.  Food and drink can cause coughing or choking if a person in not in the most upright position.

#2  During the declining in health state or the dying process respiratory difficulty is common.  The body may be too weak to cough or clear phlegm from the upper airway.  Laying flat may also contribute to feeling like they just don’t “get enough air.”

#3  Preventing or postponing “aspiration pneumonia” is the third reason.  I will talk about what “aspiration pneumonia” is in another entry.

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What’s Beside the Bed?

To save energy, utilize what energy is available and to consider safety during weakness it is really nice to have a couple of items beside the medical bed.

One item is a commode, a portable potty chair.  When this is right beside the bed a person can sit up, plant their feet on the ground, stand and pivot to sit on the commode.  The necessity of urinating or having a bowel movement doesn’t go away…for a while.  Bringing this piece of equipment can make life easier and yet remember, this is all very humbling for someone to use.

The other item is a bedside table.  There are tables just like the ones at the hospital that roll and slide over the bed.  It also is great for having things within reach (glass of water, phone, kleenex, etc).

Then if you want to have some fun put an extra blanket over the commode and always have a chair for a friend to sit on.  No one really needs to know what its true use is!

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Pad For the Medical Bed

When people spend more time in the bed due to weakness or any other symptoms, it may be beneficial to add a special pad.  These pads help prevent skin breakdown and enhance comfort.

Pressure areas on the skin and bony prominences can eventually cause open areas called pressure sores.  It is so important to prevent these types of skin problems as long as possible while caring for a bed ridden person.

The pads can be gel overlays (thick gel cushions) or they can be air-filled tubes that slowly alternate the height of the tubes and relieve pressures sites on a continuous basis.

Please ask the medical company or allow the hospice nurse to advise what is the right style for the stage of care you are facing.

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Why Get a Medical Bed?

One piece of equipment that is critical to have with certain medical conditions is the electric medical bed.

An electric function is key to protect the care giver’s back. Pushing a button verses straining to crank a handle to change positions of the bed will completely make your day.

Raising the head of the bed may help with breathing and nausea symptoms or aiding in swallowing when a person is eating in bed.

Raising the foot of the bed may keep the person from sliding down on the mattress.

Rails are available to place on the side of the bed so the person can grasp them and help themselves turn or reposition themselves.  These rails also are great reminders not to get up on their own or may even prevent someone from falling out of the bed.

As a 5’8″ tall woman I love the function of raising the entire height of the bed while I am giving a bath, doing a procedure or just changing the linen on the bed.

Hospice traditionally supplies a medical bed while under their services, otherwise some people purchase beds.  All in all, the medical bed is a GREAT tool, BUT I say, go electric.

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Equipment

Here are helpful hints on three types of medical equipment:

Cane:  the person really needs to still be moving well and just needing a slight bit of balance

Walker:  wheels or not may be the decision…either way, remember walkers allow upper body strength to compensate for weak legs.  BUT…make it the right height for each person to be upright prevent leaning too much on the walker

Wheel chairs:  again, get the right size!  Some folks can propel themselves as they sit by digging heels in to the floor and moving forward.  W/C are also decent for walking behind (remember they can roll away though)!  Some w/c have leg rests that elevate and help control feet/ankle swelling

Each of these three pieces of equipment can help maintain a certain level of independence.  YET each one needs to be respected as a device that is being used because “something” isn’t as strong as it used to be.  SAFETY and proper use is the key.

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