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By Mary Z. McGrath, Ph.D.
When you leave after visiting someone in a care facility
remind your loved one and the staff who work with them
of the next time you will be returning by writing this
information on a white board in their room or posting it
on a visible note where they are sure to see it
regularly. Ask facility assistants to reinforce this
information through verbal review. Also tell them of
upcoming outings or medical appointments.
When planning your own week, do so
strategically by clustering appointments by time and
location. Look at the big picture and consider including
a social dimension to a medical outing. For example,
stop for a treat after a doctor visit to add the balance
of lightness and fun to a potentially serious outing.
Plan to prevent or decrease functional
challenges by keeping specialized eating utensils and
other important self-care items in an easily accessible
and predictable spot. Have colored tape or bright
colored dots or stars on radios to mark their favorite
station. Mark the washer and dryer in a similar manner.
Look at placement of rugs and install railings and grab
bars in strategic spots. Add bright colored tape to
facilitate easier visual focus on spots to place hands
to make it easier to get in and out of the car.
Ultimately, it is a matter of figuring
out what needs to be adjusted in the home, automobile or
in their facility space so that they can function most
independently and easily. Then, with proper planning and
implementation, the loved one’s day will go more
Analyze the environment, looking for what you
can adapt for
optimal function. You may need to let go of where you
have formerly placed items, what you may have planned
for the use of certain space and how you had planned to
spend your time. Place a priority on the needs of your
family member, asking yourself questions in regard to
their physical needs.