Helping a senior loved one prepare for discharge from a hospital stay takes planning and preparation. Additionally, Mom or Dad may need extra recovery time before they resume normal activity and some home medical equipment may need to be in the home during the recovery period.
Your parents’ medical team and social worker may provide a list of equipment and supplies that you may need at home. In addition, they can let you know whether a prescription is required, such as for home oxygen, and if insurance will generally cover the costs.
Depending on his or her condition, the following are possible medical supplies that your loved one could need at home:
- Hospital bed
- Raised toilet seat
- Shower chair
- Grab bars
- Colostomy care supplies
- IV equipment
- Disposable gloves
- Incontinence briefs
Some of these items, such as walkers, wheelchairs and hospital beds, are reusable and considered “durable medical equipment.” Anyone who has Medicare Part B can get durable medical equipment as long as the equipment is deemed medically necessary.
Some of the more expensive equipment may be rented instead of purchased. In fact Medicare may require rental over purchase. In the instance where you have a choice, the American Elder Care Research Organization in its online article, “When to Rent vs. Buy Home and Durable Medical Equipment” suggests that you consider a few things before you make your decision:
- Consider the length of time you will need the equipment and compare the rental costs over that time versus the upfront costs for full purchase.
- If you purchase, determine how easy or difficult it will be to resell the equipment once your senior loved one no longer needs it.
- Rental agreements often cover maintenance and repair, but a purchase may not come with such a warranty. Consider the technical level of the equipment—those with more electronics might require frequent maintenance which could increase costs.
- If your senior lives in different locations over the course of the year, think about the costs to transport purchased equipment versus renting materials at each location.
Look at your senior loved one’s budget and see if it can support a high upfront cost or if lower monthly payments would be more manageable. If the budget is tight, consider seeking assistance from Veteran’s associations, healthcare foundations and other state and local nonprofits.
Once you’re ready to obtain the equipment, ask your senior loved one’s healthcare providers for references for local and trusted medical equipment suppliers. You can then work with your vendor to make sure the equipment is delivered and in working order prior to your loved one’s discharge from the hospital.
By having everything ready in advance for your senior’s return you will help ensure a more comfortable transition home.
Have you had an experience in acquiring medical equipment or supplies? What helpful hints can you offer our readers’ forum?