BE SAFE WHEN USING OXYGEN AT HOME

By Pam Gennings, Executive Director Special Projects

Oxygen therapy prescribed by a physician is beneficial for people who do not get enough oxygen naturally.

Oxygen therapy helps:

  • Improve sleep and mood
  • Increase mental alertness and stamina
  • Allow a person’s body to carry out normal functions
  • Prevent heart failure in people with severe lung disease

According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are roughly two million households in the United States using home oxygen therapy, and home medical oxygen prescribed by a physician adds a higher percentage of oxygen to the air the patient uses.

Oxygen is not flammable and will not explode. However, oxygen does support combustion. This means that an oxygen-enriched environment makes things burn faster and ignite easier.

If you or someone you know is using oxygen at home, it is important to follow these safety precautions to avoid risk of injury such as burns to yourself or others, as well as fire and property damage.

  1. Do not smoke in the same room as the oxygen concentrator or oxygen tanks.
    Post “No Smoking” signs in and outside of home to remind people not to smoke.
  2. Keep the oxygen tubing away from heat source while cooking.
  3. Oxygen must be stored at least ten (10) feet from open flames, space heaters or any source of open heat.
  4. Avoid using electrical appliances that produce sparks, such as electric heaters, electric razors, hair dryers, friction toys, remote toy cars, etc.
  5. Do not use an extension cord to plug in the concentrator. Power strips with circuit breakers should only be used as a last resort.
  6. Do not use flammable products around oxygen.
  7. Never use grease or oil in the concentrator.
  8. Do not use Vaseline®, Vicks®, Chapstick® or other petroleum-based products on or around oxygen.
  9. Do not use aerosol sprays around oxygen.
  10. Place the concentrator in a well-ventilated room with at least one (1) foot of space around the sides.
  11. Do not attempt to repair any oxygen equipment. Call your oxygen provider if you experience trouble with your oxygen.
  12. Do not route the tubing under carpets or mattresses.
  13. Keep oxygen out of reach of children.
  14. Do not use more than 50 feet of oxygen tubing (57 feet with nasal cannula).
  15. Be sure to have a functioning smoke detector and fire extinguisher in your home at all times.
  16. Always follow the physician’s orders regarding the amount of oxygen you are using.
  17. Do not change the liter flow unless directed by you physician or healthcare nurse.
  18. Periodically check to ensure that you are using the correct liter flow.

Excerpts from Oxford Home Health Patient Education Material.

If you or someone you know is new to Home Oxygen Therapy, contact one of our Care Coordinators to find out more information about available home care services.

 

 

Can I Keep My Promise? A Caregiver Dilemma.

By Carol Combs, MSW, Oxford’s Memory Care Program Coordinator

If you are a caregiver of a loved one who has Alzheimer’s or a related dementia, you desperately want to keep your loved one at home and you are committed to doing so.  Most likely you made a promise, and you feel a duty to provide care.

I can’t even begin to add up the number of times I have heard people say to me, “I promised I would never place my loved one in a nursing home” OR “I promised that I would always be the one to take care of my loved one.”

The promises you made may be impossible to keep. Here are some signs and circumstances that despite your best efforts as a caregiver, a change may need to take place.

  • You or your loved one has had a serious illness, injury or hospitalization.
  • You’ve hurt your back or fallen when trying to lift or move your loved one.
  • Your loved one has progressed to the point where he/she hurts you, exhibits frequent anger or other challenging behaviors.
  • Your loved one has wandered outside and become lost.
  • Your own health is declining.
  • Your relationships are suffering.
  • You are not able to keep up with your other responsibilities.
  • Your loved one’s doctor has recommended placement.
  • Your loved one requires more care than you can provide.
  • You don’t think you can financially afford to hire the additional care needed at home.
  • Friends and family express concern for you and encourage you to consider placement.

Keep in mind, if your own physical or emotional well-being is suffering, you may soon be unable to provide the care and support needed by your loved one.

Seek information and support and look at ALL of your options before making a decision. Planning ahead to know what your options are can help you be there for your loved one as you continue to offer the love and support needed during this challenging journey.

What are your options?

A home care agency such as Oxford can provide a wide range of home care services to assist and help keep a loved one at home. An Oxford Care Coordinator can assess your situation, make recommendations, and identify sources of payment to meet your needs. They can also arrange for services if requested to do so. Oxford services such as Hospice and Private Duty can also be provided in facilities.

If home care is no longer feasible, it may be time to consider a facility placement.   Sometimes, the next appropriate step is an Assisted Living facility before a nursing home is needed.   An Assisted Living facility provides care for someone who can no longer live independently and needs some assistance in day-to-day living but does not need the more skilled level of care offered by a nursing home.

The nursing home provides 24 hour skilled nursing care for the more chronically ill. Both types of facilities will often have a designated unit for dementia care.

A stay at either type of facility can sometimes be short term for recuperation or as respite, and the person can then return home with home care.

If you have questions about the appropriate level of care your loved one may need, an Oxford Memory Care Coordinator can assist you.

If you are considering a facility placement for your loved one, the following links have helpful information.

http://www.caregiveraction.org/_doc/pdf/NursHomeChecklist.pdf

http://www.medicare.gov/files/nursing-home-checklist.pdf

Before My Family Recognized the Emergency, Lifeline Came to the Rescue

By Pam Gennings

A recent blog post on our website Don’t Slip and Fall: Steps to Staying Safe encouraged readers to learn more about Lifeline Emergency Response if they, or a loved one, were at risk of falling. Recently, my family personally experienced the benefits of Lifeline. I am sharing our story to encourage those who are at risk of falls to consider Lifeline.

My sister-in-law Kathleen is 80 years old and has had Lifeline for a few years. She lives with her daughter Becky, but Becky can’t be available all the time.

Because of some health issues, our family encouraged Kathleen to get Lifeline for a sense of security when she was home alone. Thankfully, even after Becky retired and was able to be home more, Kathleen kept her Lifeline.

A few days ago, Kathleen got up at 4 a.m. She entered the bathroom and fell, cutting her hand and chin. Due to blood thinner medication, she started bleeding heavily. Kathleen called for Becky who was asleep in her downstairs bedroom. Becky could not hear her. Fortunately, Kathleen had her Lifeline button around her neck, and she pressed it.

Lifeline called Becky’s cell phone, but it was turned off. Unable to reach Becky, Lifeline called a neighbor who not only answered, but also had a key to Kathleen’s house.

When the neighbor entered, she found Kathleen on the floor, bleeding and saying her leg hurt. She quickly went downstairs to wake Becky. Unable to get Kathleen off the floor, they called 911.

Paramedics arrived and took Kathleen to the hospital where she received stitches in her hand and found out she had broken her hip.

Without Lifeline Emergency Response, Kathleen could have been on the floor for several hours suffering in pain and bleeding. Our family is so grateful for Lifeline. Becky is also upgrading her mother’s basic Lifeline service to include AutoAlert that detects a fall and automatically calls for help.

What happened to Kathleen could happen in any family. If you, or someone you know, are at risk of falling I encourage you to learn more about Oxford’s Lifeline Emergency Response System.