One of the biggest things people look forward to in life is the independence that comes with reaching the age of maturity and becoming a legal adult.
Adulthood brings self-sufficiency and a sense of pride. That desire for independence doesn’t stop or lessen just because an illness or disability necessitates the assistance of a caregiver.
As a caregiver, can you safely encourage independence in a patient who requires care, and if so, how can you enable your patients to live their most independent life?
Focus On Mental As Well As Physical Health
The physical health of the patient shouldn’t be your only concern. Studies have found that a large number of homebound patients also have psychiatric diagnoses that require care. Unfortunately, in-home psychiatric care isn’t something often available.
The combination of the loss of independence with an illness or disability and the lack of a support system can also lead to depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses.
While a caregiver might not be qualified to treat mental illnesses, he or she is capable of learning the signs and symptoms of these illnesses and bringing these to the attention of the proper professionals. Continuing education for caregivers is an invaluable tool to ensure that a patient’s mental health is not neglected in favor of their physical health.
Facilitate At-Home Care With Preparation
The average home is not usually prepared to handle all the needs of a homebound patient. The degree of preparation will depend on the needs of the individual patient, but before homebound care begins, you should equip the home with care necessities. Preparation should include but is not limited to:
- Mobility equipment — if necessary, the home should be prepared and reorganized to accommodate any mobility equipment being used by the patient. This could include moving furniture so wheelchairs or walkers can easily navigate the home, handles and steps for showers, lift chairs, etc.
- A Medical Alert System — If a caregiver is not present at all times, the home or patient should be equipped with a medical alert system that can notify emergency services if there is a problem.
- Reduction of Clutter — For individuals who are mobility impaired, clutter on the floor — as well as things like loose rugs, floorboards, and other hazards — can create a situation where the patient can fall and be injured.
Again, the home should be prepared to fit the patient’s specific needs. This may require different preparations than those we have listed. The safer and more prepared the home is, the more independence you can offer your patient.
Look Into Grocery and Other Essential Deliveries
We often overlook the convenience of being able to hop in the car and drive to the store for groceries or other essentials. It can be frustrating for homebound patients to be unable to do so or to be dependent on the schedules of caregivers or family to get their shopping done.
Thankfully, grocery shopping doesn’t have to be contingent on one’s ability to own or drive a car. Websites and smartphone apps like InstaCart and Shipt allow you do to your patient to do their grocery shopping online and have it delivered to their front door within a couple of hours. Amazon also offers grocery delivery, but it can take a little bit longer to get the supplies delivered, depending on where the patient resides.
Having these essentials available on demand can help homebound patients live more independently without waiting on others or potentially putting themselves or others at risk if they choose to try to travel to the store.
It is both possible and a good idea to encourage independence in your homebound patients — as long as it is safe to do so. Proper preparation is the key to promoting the independence of your patients.
As long as they can remain safe, there is no reason that your patients should not be able to live full and independent lives in spite of the fact that they require the services of a caregiver.