Stay at Home Solutions
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Stay at Home Solutions blogs on topics such as aging in place, universal design, adaptive equipment, home modifications, accessibility, durable medical equipment, legislation, and caregiving.

Four Ways to Prevent Falls during Fall!

Time moves so quickly. How is it already fall? It seems like everyone is talking about the omnipotence of pumpkin spice or their upcoming Halloween plans! (FYI: I was Frida Kahlo last year and am uncertain as to what I should be this year. Leave your suggestions in the comments below!)

I looked out the window and quite a few trees have already turned colors. In my backyard the leaves on two of the trees have turned a pale yellow and are dropping on the ground. With all of the rain in Kansas City the past several days, it feels very slick outside with the leaves on the back stoop and pavement.

“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.” -Emily Bronte

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Pexels

Alright, Emily Bronte. Although the leaves are very pretty to view, they turn into instant fall risks for me. I’ve almost hit the ground a couple of times while picking up branches.

So to help you and me stay upright on our feet, here is a list of four ways to prevent falls during fall!

1) Footwear

I am a firm believer in wearing whatever type of shoe you prefer. However when it precipitates outside, we need to seriously consider more practical footwear. Look for a shoe with a rubber sole that grips wet leaves and slick pavement to keep you sturdy while walking outside to the car or into school or work. I gleefully wear my rubber boots when walking my dogs on rainy days with the knowledge that I won’t slip and fall. Freedom!

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Pexels

If I want to wear other shoes at work or visiting friends and family, I wear my rubber boots in the car and carry my other shoes in a tote! Easy peasy! I can have my cake and eat it too!

Also consider anti slip pads for the soles of your shoes for indoor and outdoor surfaces. You place the anti slip pads to the bottom of your shoes and walk in confidence. Look for anti slip pads on Amazon or any big box store for around $10. It’s a reasonable investment to avoid falling. I don’t think you need anything as hardy as anti slip traction cleats to combat ice yet. BUT we are almost to that time of year as well.

2) Lighting

Shorter days mean less light when I leave early in the morning and arrive home in the evening. It’s hard to see slick spots on my back stoop, stairs, and sidewalk.

Home Depot

Home Depot

A simple solution is adding more light to avoid stepping in a huge puddle of mud. Solar panel pathway lighting is becoming more inexpensive and affordable to install by the walkways in and out of your house or apartment. Pathway lighting takes little effort to maintain and gives enough light to see where to safely walk. You can choose from an assortment of different designs to make your outdoors look even more beautiful.

Home Depot

Home Depot

You also want to consider mounting an automatic motion sensor light by your main entryway. When the light senses you coming towards the door, it turns on and allows you to find your key and the keyhole to quickly enter your home. Most of the automatic motion sensor lights have adjustable timers to turn off after sensing no movement. This feature conserves energy in addition to preventing any falls you may have trying to get in and out of the house.

3) Non slip outdoor flooring

My back stoop is made out of wood. Unfortunately, a lot of paint has chipped off due to the elements and being a part of the main entryway of the house. The foot traffic, sunshine, wind, and rain, and snow combined have worn the poor sucker out.

Maria Lindbergh

Maria Lindbergh

How do I fix it? Well, I could repaint the back stoop and apply a non slip coating or traction spray, like Slip Doctors, to prevent falls in the future. This is the least expensive option. You can find these items online or in store easily and slap it on your flooring. The only problem is non slip coating tends to fade away after use and time. You need to reapply the coating to ensure you stay fall free when entering and exiting your home.

Another option is to place non slip flooring on top of the existing stoop (I have to step up inside of my house anyway. I might as well shorten the distance!). Some non slip flooring that attracts my eye is recycled rubber (which can go on steps too), composite decking, paver tiles, or deck tiles. Non slip flooring would last longer than non slip coating and prevent me from slipping on my stoop when the rain and ice hits.

SlipDoctors

SlipDoctors

Lastly, you can place non slip treads on the stoop and step to give more friction to your feet when going in and out of the house. Non slip treads come in strips or tape form to make it easy to apply where you prefer. Slip Doctors sells rolls of non slip tape with different widths to give you the choice to create the length you need for your home. You can find non slip treads in all kinds of colors including clear! The price range is $15-35 per unit. I recommend you seriously consider the black non slip tread with the reflective strip to avoid falling at home.

4) Portico

A portico is a part of the roof that hangs over your main entryway. I technically do not have a portico; part of the roof hangs over the door about 12 inches, which makes it nice and dry for the first step out the door!

Sutton Group Preferred Realty

Sutton Group Preferred Realty

It would be lovely to have a portico cover my little 3’x4’ stoop to protect it from rain and snow. I wouldn’t worry about slipping on the stoop because it would remain dry.

Building a portico isn’t cheap, but there are other options. You could consider using a canopy, a patio cover, pavilion, or retractable awnings. With so many choices, it’s easy to plan and decide what will work best for your finances and aesthetics.

At the end of the day, I just don’t want you or me to fall, capiche? Look over these fall prevention tips and choose what’s going to work out best for you!

Please comment down below and tell me how you prevent falls in the fall! Let me learn your ways!

Preparing for the Costs of Long-Term Care: Tips for Seniors
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Pexels

Foreword:

The goal of Stay at Home Solutions is to do everything in our power to help you make changes in your home in order for you to live safely and independently for as long as you would like. However, the reality is sometimes “the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry”, meaning that you can make as many changes as you would like to your home, but you may need 24 hour personal care that your family cannot help you with.

None of us like to think that we could end up in that situation. Since we are practical people, we like to share additional information on what else you can do to prepare yourself. Luckily, we found someone who enjoys helping people do the same.

Hazel Bridges is the creator of AgingWellness.org, a website that aims to provide health and wellness resources for aging seniors. She’s a breast cancer survivor and challenges herself and others to live life to the fullest. Hazel contributed the information below for you to make the best decisions for you!


Preparing for the Costs

of Long-Term Care: Tips for Seniors

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It’s important to plan for your long-term care needs even if you don't end up needing it. You can never be sure if an unexpected illness or accident will suddenly change your ability to care for yourself. Though Medicare is valuable to seniors, it provides little coverage for the extensive costs of long-term care. The best thing you can do is prepare for the possibility of long-term care while you’re still able to make important decisions and look into your funding options.

Know What Types of Costs to Expect:

There are three main options for long-term senior care: nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and in-home care. According to A Place for Mom, a private room in an assisted living center costs about $90 per day while a private room in a nursing home costs $205 per day for the more intensive levels of care. In-home care costs anywhere from $112 to $192 per day, depending on the amount of time that care is required. If you have family members that can step in and help out, you can cut out some of the costs of in-home care. If you’re looking for the most affordable facility options, consider a care center in a non-urban area rather than one in the city.

Understand What Medicare and Medicaid Cover:

Long-term care services include assistance with daily living tasks such as dressing, cleaning and eating. Although Medicare can help seniors out with their required medical services, it does not cover any other aspects of long-term care. For example, Medicare covers doctor's visits, prescription drugs and hospital stays. It may also pay for a portion of the costs for short-term care in a certified nursing facility following a hospital admission, which can be helpful if you just need to recover from an accidental injury. Other than this, the program does not help with personal or long-term care services.

Unlike Medicare, Medicaid can help you cover some of the costs of long-term care, but only if you are low-income with few assets. Medicaid does pay for long-term care services in nursing homes and at home. However, states have different eligibility requirements and differ according to which services they cover.

Consider Funding Long-Term Care Yourself:

Of course, you are welcome to self-fund your long-term care if you have the means. This is a great way to avoid paying expensive premiums for insurance and have the flexibility to put your money exactly where you need it. However, this is difficult to do unless you have substantial savings built up or assets that can be liquidated. Selling your home can be a viable option if both you and your partner are moving out of the house. Before you sell, make sure you're up to date on the current home sale trends in your area. For example, homes in Smithville, Missouri have sold for an average of $215,000 in the last month.

Know About Your Insurance Options:

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According to Mariner Wealth Advisors, there are two main types of long-term care insurance. These are the stand-alone policy and life insurance with an accelerated death benefit rider. Stand-alone long-term care insurance covers the expenses that aren’t taken care of by either Medicare or Medicaid. This includes assisted living, nursing homes, and at-home care. However, if you don’t end up needing care, you don’t get any benefits from the insurance. On the other hand, a death benefit rider on a life insurance policy allows you to receive benefits if you end up needing care while any unused benefits will be paid to your beneficiaries. This type of policy is more flexible but tends to have higher premiums.

Many Americans' greatest fear about aging is requiring long-term care and not being able to pay for it. This is no surprise since costs can get as high as $100,000 to $250,000. Although government programs can be valuable to seniors requiring medical services, it's important that you make alternate plans to pay for possible long-term care needs in your future.


Afterword:

Although planning long-term care has its benefits, this can be a difficult topic to discuss between family members. No one enjoys thinking about the possibility of needing long-term care in the future. It’s easy to put this topic on the back burner.

Some tips to make long-term care planning easier include:

  1. Reflecting on what you want if you needed long-term care

  2. Identifying family and social supports

  3. Organizing information you gather to help you make sense of everything

In my experience, families who do talk about long-term care planning do not appear as stressed or frantic when their loved one needs it. They know what to do, where to go, and how it’s being funded. Peace of mind comes with planning your long-term care needs. It’s a lot of work, but consider the process as a gift to you and your family!

Hate to Admit It, But. . .

I accidentally locked myself out of my own website! So while I was missing last week, here is something I wanted to share:

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Pexels

Seniors Flourish graciously posted an article I wrote about how occupational therapists can help caregivers and patients make changes in the home to keep patients safe and independent during daily activities! Click here to read it! You don’t have to be an occupational therapist to benefit from it!

Also, feel free to peruse the rest of the Seniors Flourish website! It has excellent resources on how occupational therapists can provide evidence-based interventions to help their clients. You never know, you could learn a thing or two!

Stay tuned to check out the blog post this Tuesday at noon! I’ll give you a hint: it has to do with finances!

A Watch That Reads Your Heart?

When I was in school for occupational therapy, my instructors encouraged us to use strategies that avoided bringing unwanted attention to our client. We were tasked with helping our clients do the things they needed to do with items that did not make them stick out in the crowd.

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Pexels

For instance, if you had a kid who needs deep pressure to pay attention in class, put some leg warmers or athletic compression garments on!

Can’t read the menu? Take a picture of it and enlarge the image!

If you had a client who talked to voices in their head, put a bluetooth headphone on their ear!

Older adult can’t drive anymore? Show them how to use Uber on their smartphone!

That’s our bread and butter! Occupational therapists love to find these easy, everyday solutions so clients can live their lives to the fullest!

And guess what recently released that follows along the easy, everyday solutions theme of this article? (Trumpet fanfare plays)

The Apple Watch Series 4!

Apple Watch Series 4 by David Phelan

Apple Watch Series 4 by David Phelan

What does it do? Well, this new-fangled watch can accurately read your heart for one thing! It has an electrocardiogram (EKG) that the Food and Drug Administration approved. There are electrodes inside of the ceramic backing. People can take their EKG at any time and share it with your doctor! The Series 4 measures your heart rate and can tell if you have irregular rhythm. It also sends you a notification when your heart rate is too low, which means there may not be enough blood pumping through your body.

Fear of falls? Not to worry! The Apple watch detects falls by noting wrist trajectory and impact acceleration. Think of the potential! It can even contact emergency services for you in case of medical emergency if you do not move in one minute.

Other features include a 30% larger watch face than the other Apple watches. This makes it easier to read the time, text messages, and caller ID. I know I appreciate not struggling to read tiny fonts!

Apple Watch Series 4 by David Phelan

Apple Watch Series 4 by David Phelan

Good news for people with difficulty hearing, the new watch speakers are 50% louder. This is similar to other talking devices for people who have low vision.

The Series 4 is slimmer and lighter, which makes it more “manageable” to wear according to some reports. For me personally, I enjoy wearing a slimmer watch because I tend to catch on doorways or fabrics when I’m not paying attention while moving around!

I’m not going to lie. I am very excited by the possibilities this watch presents!

The very first thing I thought of was how many clients I have worked with who refuse to wear medical alert devices because they label them as a fall risk.

Case in point: my grandmother. She chose to wear her medical alert device (company name extracted) as a necklace. Granny thought if she wore it as a necklace, it would not be in her way while cooking and washing dishes. However, Granny never wore the medical alert device at all because it was ugly.

Me: “Where’s your medical alert device?”

Granny: “Oh. . . in my room.”

Me: “It’s supposed to be around your neck.”

Granny: “. . . I forgot.”

Then we would have a stare down with each other, which resulted in me retrieving the medical alert device from her room and placing it on her.

Not only did Granny not like the device because it was unattractive. It labeled her to other people as a fall risk. She felt like the medical alert device gave off a negative connotation of being old, fragile, feeble, incapable, decrepit, etc. Please insert whatever negative description you can think of.

And I felt bad for encouraging Granny to wear the medical alert device! At the same time, I wanted her to have assistance as quickly as possible in case she fell and became injured.

So what’s a granddaughter or other family member to do?

The answer is look out for ways to give Granny her dignity back through devices like this Apple watch.

People could wear this fashionable watch and no one would realize that the watch could help them in case of a fall or heart problem. You would merely glance at Granny and think, “Dang, what a cool lady!” You would probably go up and compliment Granny for wearing such a fancy watch.

Technology like the Apple watch gives family members and caregivers peace of mind. I see this tool as another way in which to help people stay at home as long as they like. The Apple watch is a form of support to allow people to confidently live independently in their community.

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Pexels

The only drawback I see is the price. This watch is not affordable to a lot of people who could truly benefit from it. It costs $399 to start and up to $499 for the cellular version.

Whoa, that’s a lot of dough for someone living on a fixed income.

But you have to consider all of the Apple Watch features compared to other medical alert devices. Besides after you purchase it, you are not paying a subscription fee like you would for a medical alert device. On average, subscription fees are around $20 a month, which comes to $240 a year.

You really need to weigh all of the pros and cons for this high tech gadget.

At the end of the day, Granny or any other adult can use this Apple watch to monitor health and use it to communicate needs to family and emergency personnel. It’s great that technology is becoming more affordable in that we all could potentially own a personal EKG on our wrists. The Apple watch is leading towards the same path as telehealth. Doctors are already able to monitor their patient’s weight and blood anti-coagulation levels from home. For people who struggle to go out for doctor’s visits, the option to send their health status by simply wearing a watch sounds incredibly appealing!

What do you think? Are you going to buy this watch for you or a loved one? Comment down below!

Can You Relate?
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Pexels

Breaking a bone in your body is one of the worst experiences you can have in your lifetime. Trust me. I know this experience firsthand!

When I was eight-years-old, I climbed the wobbly, rickety chain link fence in the backyard at home and toppled over to fall to the ground breaking my left elbow. I remember passing out from the pain after seeing my mother’s scared facial expression.

At the hospital, I was given pain medication that completely knocked me out. The radiology tech had to keep prodding me to stay awake while taking x-rays of my arm. Eventually, I had surgery to realign my bones with two pins.

I remember the whole experience vividly! I was small and nimble enough to not need any home modifications. BUT I needed help with getting dressed, going to the bathroom, taking a shower, and brushing my hair. The pain from my arm would wake me up sometimes at night. I had to sleep lying on my back with my arm propped up on pillows.

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I HATE sleeping on my back!

Luckily, I am right handed and had all the benefits of youth while waiting for my arm to heal! I was able to easily manipulate brushing my teeth, drawing, feeding, playing card games, and anything else you can think of with my right hand. Recovery took no time at all for me as a child. As soon as I was able to use my left arm, I quickly returned to dance lessons and playing piano.

I could never forget how my injury impacted my life in such a profound way. My mother was wary and extra protective while my arm healed. She made sure my sisters and cousins were careful when they played around me. Mom did not want me to be hurt again!

Looking back, I not only see the physical impacts a broken arm had on my life. I also see how I changed the way I took care of myself and how my family members and friends treated me.

As an eight-year-old, I was very independent in taking care of myself prior to the injury, especially as the oldest of four children. When I broke my arm, it felt like going in reverse needing even more help from my mother. She even tied my shoes again. I saw myself as an independent person changing into an interdependent person.

That’s hard even for an eight-year-old child.

I can’t tell you how happy and relieved I was to resume my independence again after my arm fully recovered. But not everyone can experience this type of relief.

As an adult, injuries like broken bones can be more damaging and long lasting than what children experience. This is where it gets deep, people!

Adults have decades of being independent in taking care of themselves and others. A broken bone drastically changes how they view themselves. Accepting help can sometimes be seen in the same vein as becoming older or aging.

Of course, as occupational therapists, it’s easy for us to reassure adults with injuries that they are not old people (there’s nothing wrong with that anyway!). We educate them on all of the ways they can still do what they need and want to do. However, we do need to remind ourselves that when people break a bone, they are grieving the loss (temporary or permanent) of their independence and the way they used to do daily activities. Even little eight-year-old me grieved over not being able to play tag and ride my bike for a couple of months.

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Whoa. Grief? Yes. Here’s an example!

Dave broke his tibia stepping off a sidewalk into the street while heading to a coffee shop. He had surgery and needed to use a walker to help balance while hopping on one leg to get around. He quickly realized he needed a lot of help with getting in and out of his house, bed, shower, and going up and down the stairs. Dave was frustrated he could not move easily around his house anymore.

Pistola squat by Workoutlabs.com

Pistola squat by Workoutlabs.com

He thought, “Dang, I never thought I would need to do a pistola squat to get on and off the toilet! I don’t want my wife to help me with this every day!”

Dave even needed help picking up his dog’s bowls to put water and food in them! He felt like he had to rely on his wife to do everything. Dave started to feel depressed while his leg was healing because he wanted to do more by himself. Dave loved his wife, but he didn’t want to be soooo intimate with her while toileting and bathing.

He missed his ability to move around and take care of himself on his own time. Dave wondered if he will be able to continue living in his current house as it was. “What if I could never walk again? What will I do?”

In this situation, it’s easy to see why Dave would grieve the loss of his privacy, caring for himself, and moving around. He feels frustrated on how much effort he has to put in to simply move around the house. These emotions are very normal for any person. Have you every had this type of experience? Can you relate to Dave?

There are some things we cannot control whatsoever, like accidents. But we certainly can control our environment! Since we know breaking bones is such a challenging physical and emotional time, I am happy to say there are ways we can prevent lessen some of the pain and maintain our dignity by making changes in the home.

Yes, as a kid, I easily navigated my environment with a broken arm. However, poor adult Dave struggled to move around in and outside of his house with a broken leg. Let me tell you three things he could do to his house to make recovery better:

Stanton Homes

Stanton Homes

1) Create one entrance at home with ZERO steps. This will make it easier to use a walker to hop on one leg in and out of the house. Dave will be able to escape the home in case of emergency, see the doctor, go to outpatient therapy, spend time with friends at the ball game, etc. Dave can just enjoy not struggling to get in and out of his own house! He will not feel like a trapped prisoner!

Barrier free shower by Accessible Solutions

Barrier free shower by Accessible Solutions

2) Build a bathroom on the main floor of the house. Preferably this will be a full bathroom, but a half bathroom will certainly suffice! Put blocking in the walls in order to install grab bars later if needed. The blocking will allow you to install grab bars at any height! How neat! Grab bars could help Dave get on and off the toilet by himself, but there are a lot more options I can talk about with Dave and his wife.

3) Install a barrier free shower. Dave can easily use this shower with or without a broken leg! A barrier free shower lets you walk in and out without stepping over anything! This type of shower is perfect for all ages and abilities from wheelchair users to people who walk on two legs. Learn more by clicking here or here!

If you can relate to Dave, you may want to consider planning on making changes to your current home. Life is unpredictable, but if you do it before you need it then you are setting yourself up to maintain your independence and dignity in your own home. Please comment below if you or someone you know has had Dave’s experience of grieving the loss of taking care of yourself.

Announcements!
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Pexels

Hello! I decided to take the week off on a traditional blog post this Tuesday due to the holiday. But fear not! Next week, you will have more scintillating home modification information on your electronic device!

I wanted to share some quick information with you!

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Pexels

RAFFLE WINNER! The widely anticipated Stay at Home Solutions Raffle winner was selected yesterday on my Facebook Live. The lucky winner of a FREE home evaluation by yours truly is. . . . ROCHELLE L.!

Please give it up to Rochelle for winning the contest! Please check on the Stay at Home Solutions Facebook page or Instagram for more future raffles or contests!

The second announcement is we will be at the Parkville, MO YMCA on Friday, September 21st at the Fall Prevention Health Fair from 9 AM to noon. Come up and see us! Learn about how to prevent falls at home!

I hope you had a lovely weekend and remember to start making your home safer now to maintain your independence! Do it before you need it!

Midwest Ability Summit Experience and EXCITING Announcement!
Photo: Amanda Pearman

Photo: Amanda Pearman

(FYI: This post is an overview about my experience at the Midwest Ability Summit this last Saturday. BUT if you want to skip down to the bottom to read my exciting announcement, I wouldn’t blame you!)

Oh my! This past Saturday was fantastic! I had a booth at the Midwest Ability Summit at the Overland Park Convention Center in Overland Park, KS. This event is an ability expo that showcases various resources in the Kansas City metro for people with disabilities, their family members, caregivers, and health care professionals. There were educational classes, non-profit organizations, service providers, and tons more from law groups to home health companies!

Check out midwestabilitysummit.org to see all of the exhibitors from this year! Also, click here to learn more about the purpose of Stay at Home Solutions!

Personally, I felt so happy for my booth to sit right next to the KSDS Assistance Dogs because I got to sneak over and pet the doggies in training! For you animal lovers, there were also adorable therapy mini ponies at the summit. Never discount the health benefits of our four-legged friends!

Photo: David Groves

Photo: David Groves

There were many other sights to take in at this event. I enjoyed watching the tennis demonstration area directly across from my booth. The happy expressions on the children and adults lobbying tennis balls to each other felt palpable! In fact, I tossed a couple of stray balls back into action. In addition to a sports viewing, I saw children and adults test recumbent bikes and power wheelchairs and standing frames around the convention center floor with huge grins. Everybody was having fun!

To add to the festivities, my booth offered candy amid other freebies like pens, sticky pads, and chapstick. I heard many parents bemoan the fact that the summit was like Halloween because of the vast amounts of candy within reach for the children! My booth neighbors came and grabbed candy for a quick snack every once in a while in between people. Visitors hauled tote bags full of goodies and information around the venue while talking to exhibitors.

The summit impressed me with the consideration of their guests! For instance, they provided a quiet/ sensory friendly area for people who needed a break from the stimulating sights and sounds. The displays were fantastic too! My friend and frequent project collaborator, David Groves of Accessible RehabWorks, set up a barrier free shower, patio, and wooden ramp. It looked amazing and added to the atmosphere of this event.

I was also delighted to see organizations represented at the summit that contribute excellent services to the community and I deeply support, like Minds Matter!

I felt so pleased to have many people come visit at my booth! I was happy to answer questions about my business and home modifications. Here are some of the most frequent ones:

Question: “How far out do you visit people?”

Answer: I see everyone in the Kansas City area in about a 50 mile radius. I am willing to Skype or do some other type of video communication with people who live outside of the area. For people who live outside Kansas City, I offered to help find home modification occupational therapists for people, like in Texas and Colorado.

Question: “Do you read blueprints?”

Answer: Yes, I do! I am happy to consult for people planning on building houses in order for them to live safely and independently.

Question: “I live in an apartment/townhouse. Can you help me?”

Answer: Absolutely yes! The Fair Housing Act ensures landlords allow reasonable accommodations be made for their residents. I recommend home modifications that will benefit you and make your landlord happy.

Question: “Do you see people of all ages?”

Answer: Yes, I am happy to see everybody! Everyone deserves to live in their home safely and independently without worry of moving to a facility!

Photo: Amanda Pearman

Photo: Amanda Pearman

Question: “Do you take insurance?”

Answer: I take Missouri Medicare and am able to bill all of the managed care insurance companies for Medicare beneficiaries like Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, Coventry, etc.

Question: “Are you an occupational therapist?”

Answer: Why yes I am!

There were visitors who asked specific questions about their home. For example, I helped a lady problem solve how to prevent water from spreading all over her bathroom floor from her barrier free shower. Another couple discussed options for downsizing their current home to make sure they could age in place in the community as opposed to going to a facility. I thoroughly enjoyed talking to people and learning about their needs and concerns for staying at home.

Photo: Pexels

Photo: Pexels

Hear ye! Hear ye! Okay, now are you ready for my EXCITING announcement!

I have a RAFFLE for a FREE home evaluation! This is for all ages! If you win, I will come to your home and give you options on what you can do to live safely and independently! There are no prerequisites for a home evaluation (like a history of falls or disability). Every single person on the planet benefits from a professional like me to come give you ideas!

How do you enter? Like my Facebook page (@stayathomesolutionskc) by August 30th at 9 PM to enter the raffle! If you have already liked my Facebook page, please follow me on Instagram (@stayathomesolutions) or Pinterest (Stay at Home Solutions) to enter the raffle! Remember, I also post videos on YouTube at Stay at Home Solutions.

If you win the free home evaluation and you would like to gift it to a friend or family member, you sure can!

The winner will be announced this Friday, August 31st at noon on Facebook! Tune in to see who wins this amazing prize! Contests like these make me feel so excited!

I promise to shoot the Facebook video in landscape this time!

Lastly, I just wanted to say how honored I am to be included in the Midwest Ability Summit. The organizers are lovely, big-hearted people to create a one-stop shop for people of all different conditions and backgrounds. The summit was all inclusive and fun for attendees! I look forward to being a part of this event next year!

Can't Open the Washing Machine (Or Dryer) Door?
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I will admit to you all today that I sometimes struggle to open the washing machine or dryer door. There are instances where I do not grip the door handle well enough and my hand slips off! Occasionally, I attempt to open the door and need to tug on it two to three times before it opens! When I experience this I tend to think, "Oh my gosh, why is this so hard?"

Then my occupational therapy brain starts to kick in and think: "How can I solve this? How can I make it easier to open the washer or dryer door?"

Well my friends, let me share some ideas with you today! Let's go through and think about your current situation!

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Please go and look at your washer and dryer right now. I will patiently wait for you! (Side note: Hopefully your washer and dryer are on the main level of your house. If not, put that in your three to five year home modification plan! A washer and dryer on the main level of the house helps people age in place in their home!)

Ok, did you look? I am going to ask the following questions:

  • What type of washer and dryer do you have? Are they front or top loaders?

  • Are they a stackable washer and dryer?

  • What brand do you have? 

  • Which direction does the door open and shut on the washer and dryer?

  • Where are the control buttons on the washer and dryer? On the front of the machine? Towards the back on a panel?

  • Where is it located in the house?

The answers to these questions tell me a lot about how you are moving to do laundry. It leads me to other questions about you personally like:

  • What is your dominant hand? Right or left?

  • What is your grip strength?

  • Are you sitting or standing at the machine when moving loads?

  • Are you sitting or standing while folding clothes?

  • How far can you reach while sitting or standing?

  • Are you using equipment, like a walker or reacher?

  • When you do laundry, do you wear out after a short time or can you do everything without rest breaks?

  • Do you lose your balance when reaching for clothes inside the machine?

There are no right or wrong answers! Everyone does laundry a little bit different. Answering these questions helps me think about the best options for you when opening the washer and dryer door. It tells me what your needs are and the possible solutions to making it easier to open the door handle every time.

It is also really helpful to see you in action! Ask your local, friendly occupational therapist to watch how you open the washer or dryer door handle to find a way to make it better for you! Or another option is to have your family member or friend take a video recording. You know your teenage children or grandchildren would be happy to whip out their phones to video record you in action!

After considering all the information and how you open the washer or dryer door handle, perhaps your solution is as simple as switching the door hinges to swing from the right instead of the left or vice versa. Maybe you are able to add some texture around the handle of the washer and dryer door handle, like shelf liner or some other type of non slip grip. The solution varies from person to person!

Clarke Health Care grab bar

Clarke Health Care grab bar

I talked with another occupational therapist about trying a suction cup grab bar on the washer or dryer door. The handle of the suction cup grab bar would be easier to grip. However, the temperature changes on the surface of the machine's door could cause the suction cup grab bar to fall off after several uses. If you have tried to use a suction cup grab bar as a door handle on your washer or dryer, please comment down below! I am curious to hear your experience!

To be honest, this is one of the rare times I encourage people to use a suction cup grab bar at home! Please click here to read why I am skeptical about suction cup grab bars!

After doing some quick research, I found an ingenious way to fix a broken handle on a washer or dryer door. Click here to read this do-it-yourself article on how to change your washer/dryer door handle into a rope handle! I have never seen anyone use a rope as a door handle on the washer or dryer in person. Nevertheless, this option is appealing because it is inexpensive and straightforward to pull on the rope to open the door.

An alternative strategy is an autorelease, or automatic, washer or dryer door. The door would open as soon as the load finished, which lessens the need to open the washer or dryer door. I researched this option and only found it for a dishwasher brand. Manufacturers, hear my plea to be more creative with your washer and dryer handles!

Home Depot Samsung Washer

Home Depot Samsung Washer

In the same technology vein, I looked at several smart washers and dryers. I could not find any with a feature that made it easier to open the washer and dryer door. However, I encourage you to consider this type of appliance because smart washers and dryers cost around the same amount as other washers and dryers. Other benefits include smart washers and dryers running loads when energy usage in your neighborhood is low, monitoring machine parts that need replacement, and controlling the machine from an app on your smart phone.

Hopefully, these ideas will help you open the washer or dryer door effortlessly! These tips will help you stay independent while doing your laundry for years to come. Laundry is not the most pleasurable chore for people, but you deserve for it to be free of difficulty! Please share what you have done to your washer or dryer door handle. Tell me what technology, equipment, or parts that I'm missing! 

Guess Who's on My OT Spot?
Pexels

Pexels

Holy moly! My OT Spot posted my article here! Take a look at it!

My OT Spot is a fantastic website dedicated to people interested in becoming occupational therapists and current practitioners to learn how to succeed and thrive in this field! The article I wrote gives occupational therapists a list of highly recommended home modifications for their clients when they go home from rehab.

At the end of the day, I want to help people stay at home safely and independently. I love love love helping my fellow occupational therapists serve their clients! 

If you read this article, please comment down below on what you think!

6 Reasons to Reconsider Buying a Walk-in Tub
theseniorlist.com

theseniorlist.com

People often ask me about my opinion on walk-in tubs. Walk-in tubs look like tall bathtubs with a door that allows a person to step inside or sit on a seat to slide into the tub. After you close the door, you fill up the tub with water and bathe as usual.

Walk-in tubs seem ubiquitous! Every time I turn on the TV, I see a commercial showing a smiling older adult confidently stepping out of the walk-in tub. The announcer explains how easily walk-in tubs could replace your current tub shower and how this product improves your safety and independence.

“Imagine closing your eyes while soaking in a luxurious walk-in tub.”

Marketers harp the ability for people to enjoy showering or bathing for their lifetime with these great, quality walk-in tubs. However, I think it’s a good idea to take a step back and look at the overall picture of walk-in tubs. In my experience as an occupational therapist working with clients from all backgrounds, I am not convinced walk-in tubs are suitable for everyone. I present to you six reasons to reconsider buying a walk-in tub!

1) Safety Features:

Pexels

Pexels

If you are contemplating buying a walk-in tub, make sure you ask for safety features like grab bars and non slip flooring and seating. Paying a little more up front will save money in the long run compared to the cost of an emergency room visit and hospitalization! Of course, you could add non slip decals or coating to surfaces after purchase, but that may violate the manufacturer’s warranty. Although you are stepping or sliding into and out of the walk-in tub, surfaces feel slippery when wet. Remember, the number one cause of falls in the bathroom is slipping while stepping out of the shower!

2) Customize to the Client:

Contractors are great at installing and building things, but their job does not include considering the size and reach of the client. If you have a hand held shower head installed along with the walk-in tub, you want it to be within your reach while you’re sitting down, right? Well my friends, sometimes the hand held shower head is installed out of the reach of the person who would like to use it.

I worked with a woman who shared her story of installing a walk-in tub at home. She also requested to have a hand held shower head installed to rinse her hair while using the walk-in tub. My client felt dismayed when she discovered she could not reach the hand held shower head while sitting down. The shower head sprayed water all over her bathroom dousing the floor and walls! Talk about a fall risk! This particular client is very petite, which means standard measurements for hand held shower head placement do not work for her.

I encouraged her to contact the company who installed it and request to place the hand held shower head in a different location. My client’s experience also highlights the fact on why it is a good idea for occupational therapists to be involved with home modifications, like installing a walk-in tub, in order for projects to be customized for the use of the client.

3) Mr. Freeze:

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Pexels

This same client brought up another problem: she felt “frozen” while the walk-in tub filled up with water. Unfortunately, people need to sit inside the walk-in tub and close the door completely shut before you can turn on the water. Walk-in tubs do not come with any type of heating system, like radiant heating in the ceiling, and rely solely on hot water to warm the client.

Walk-in tub companies report their faucets and drains move water quickly to lessen the client’s experience of feeling cold. But that still means you are going to feel cold while waiting for the water to fill the tub and empty out! Do you really want to pay thousands of dollars to feel uncomfortable?

4) Energy:

Installing a radiant heating system in the ceiling will increase the overall price of installing the walk-in tub. As people age, it is easier to feel cold, especially in your birthday suit! Many customers want a heating system for comfort. Make sure to look for a system that uses energy efficiently. Some heating systems can use a lot of electricity keeping you warm while you bathe in the walk-in tub.

I found that people who feel cold or unsafe with walk-in tubs shower less frequently or not at all! These type of people “sponge bathe” or bathe at the bathroom or kitchen sink. It does not make sense to install a walk-in tub that is seldom used!

5) Medical Conditions:

If you have a progressive medical condition, walk-in tubs will not be safe in years to come. Progressive medical conditions, such as Parkinson’s or dementia, cause people to lose the strength and ability to move as well as they used to. Walk-in tubs require people to have a certain amount of balance and strength to open/close the door, step or slide inside and out, lean, reach, and sit/stand upright. When you lose the ability to do those things, the walk-in tub becomes completely obsolete to you. In fact, walk-in tubs become dangerous to try and get in and out!

Dangerous to get in and out to take a bath? Inconceivable! Sad, but true!

There are instances where people with progressive medical conditions have slipped off the seat in the walk-in tub to the floor. They were unable to push and lift themselves off of the floor of the walk-in tub! It’s terrifying when you consider that you cannot open the door until you drain the tub! Not to mention, it’s hard for rescuers to help people stuck in the tub because of slippery skin and bathroom surfaces. It may take hours for rescuers to successfully help a person out of the walk-in tub. Can you imagine being in the position?

6) Caregivers:

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Pexels

Walk-in tubs are not good for the caregiver (i.e. family, friends, or paid workers). From an ergonomic perspective, caregivers may feel more back pain from assisting a person in/out of the walk-in tub and the extra bending and reaching over to help with bathing. For instance, it takes more effort for a caregiver to reach over and help a client with lower body bathing. Don’t be surprised if a caregiver will object to you installing a walk-in tub in your house!

7) Bonus Reason!

Walk-in tubs are very pricey for a lot of people. They can cost up to $20,000 depending on the model and accessories. If installed and you don’t like it, it will cost thousands to remove and replace it.

Many people I know simply do not have the finances to install a walk-in tub. Perhaps that is for the best. I do not see walk-in tubs as a cost efficient option for the majority of the population because of the potential problems they cause. I really only condone them if a person has the finances and space in the house to install a walk-in tub in addition to a tub shower or barrier free shower.

Look, I am not here to bash or put down walk-in tubs. I just feel like they are marketed as the solution for people who cannot get in and out of the tub. That is not the case: walk-in tubs are not the solution for every person!

At the end of the day, I urge you to thoroughly consider all the factors when looking at a walk-in tub. List out your expectations and needs and then look at all of your options. Will walk-in tubs really meet your standard over the long term? Have you researched other options such as barrier free showers? If you find yourself in need of some extra guidance, look into consumer reviews of walk-in tubs and call up an occupational therapist! Ask your friends and family if they have installed a walk-in tub. What did they think about it?

For the cost and time to install a walk-in tub, I encourage you to be an informed consumer and make the best decision for you. I hate to see people completely dissatisfied with a product that affects their ability to bathe! I want to hear your thoughts or experience with walk-in tubs below in the comments. Tell me what you think!