Thursday, September 10, 2009

Patient aids -What you'll need and where to get it

The items listed here are for a patient with Parkinson's Disease at various stages. Being elderly is a consideration. If there are other conditions - diabetes, heart problems, your list may be considerably longer. Sometimes you just wish you could find something that will work. Look everywhere, expect suprises. Be flexible and open to new uses for old items.
You may purchase items you need from medical supply stores found on the internet or through the Yellow Pages of your phone book. Most people appreciate saving money where they can. Shopping yard sales, flea markets, or estate sales can lead you to used wheelchairs and other reusable supplies. I have purchased 3 used wheelchairs over time, in various condition- some paint chipped, missing a small part, or hardly used. Prices ranged from $15.00 to $40.00. One wheelchair stays in the car, one on the porch to get him to and from the car, and one in his basement workshop. Other items you might find helpful: fold down lap table, bedside tray table on wheels (like used in the hospital), toilet chair, tub chair, hand rails, eating utensils, bibs, bed pads, etc. If you are unable to get out to shop these "bargain hunter" sales, put the word out to friends or relatives to be on the watch for items.
When obtaining these items don't hesitate to get more than one, maybe several of each item,'ll need them. Plan to have multiples - keep one in the car, one in the house, one in the basement, etc.
It may seem cold hearted to take advantage of another's hard ship when they are selling off items their loved one used while they were being cared for at home. Most sellers are glad to see the items go to someone else that can use them.
Your county Department of Public Welfare may be able to assist if the patient qualifies. They may provide financial assistance to obtain new items such as wheelchairs and other mobility equipment - hand grab bars in the bathrooms, stair glide to get up and down stairs, even house remodeling to accommodate the handicapped patient, the idea being to keep the patient in his home as long as possible. They may also be able to provide caregiver assistance to help care for the patient. Having assistance when you need it can help prevent caregiver burnout and depression. The current economic situation may mean cuts in funds available for this use, but it wouldn't hurt to try to get their services.
Medicare may help pay for equipment if their requirements are met. Combining both Medicare and County Assistance can go a long way to making a difficult situation livable.
Remember to take care of the caregiver. It that's you, allow yourself time to breathe. I should talk. I feel guilty any time I feel the need to get away, so usually I don't. "My time" is while he sleeps late or goes to bed early. I can't go out and leave him alone, but I have time on the computer or to read, whatever I can do and still be within hearing distance of his call.