Strengthening family caregivers

November 28, 2011 by cpehrson

Adult woman, blonde hair, kneeling beside a young boy in a wheelchair

This month, National Family Caregivers Month, we have been talking about family caregivers and the kinds of support that they need in order to continue to provide this valuable service for a loved one.

Many caregivers go without supportive services that could help reduce the challenges of providing care.  Our last family caregiver blog outlined some of the resources and supports that are available to caregivers.

Another source of support for family caregivers comes in the form of assistive technology and home modifications.

Assistive technology includes mobility devices like canes, walkers, and wheelchairs, to help someone who has trouble getting around. There are AT devices to help people with limited hand or arm function remain independent, such as an adaptive lever for a reclining chair, or a built up handle on a utensil. Communication AT is available for people who have difficulty speaking; they range from simple picture word cards to more sophisticated devices for electronic technology.  Other AT is available for people with limited hearing or vision.

Many adaptive devices can be customized to meet the needs of the individual.

The Utah Assistive Technology Program (UATP) at the CPD specializes in working with individuals and creating  AT devices that answer a specific need.  The AT lab staff have built everything from wheelchair lifts for cars, a standing device so a six-year old can balance and play his Wii Fit, to a latch stimulation board for Alzheimer patients at a local nursing home.

According to Clay Christensen, AT Lab Coordinator, “That is what we are all about at the Assistive Technology Lab, changing lives for the better.”

Home modifications can be made as a person’s health and ability declines.  These can include grab bars and shower seats, as well as portable ramps for wheelchairs or electric scooters.  Hospital beds, commodes, and incontinence supplies can also be obtained from a healthcare supply store.

Financial help is possible through various programs to help with AT equipment or home modifications.  The Utah Assistive Technology Foundation at the CPD partners with Zion’s Bank to provide low-interest loans to help people acquire the equipment and make the modifications that they need.

As family caregivers become aware of the many resources that are available to them, they will find the supports that they need to continue to care for their loved one.

We take our hats off to those family caregivers who make life easier for their loved ones.

This is the last in a series of four blogs about the role and services provided by family caregivers across the nation.

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