Medical Tools All Caregivers Should Have
Even with regular doctor’s appointments and home health, there are in between times where being equipped with the right medical devices at home can be really helpful (and ease caregiver anxiety). Here is our go-to list:
- Thermometer: We particularly like using the temporal thermometers that simply take a quick swipe across the forehead and back to get a reading. If your loved one isn’t feeling well, is confused or seems sick, tracking their temperature over a course of hours or days is vital when communicating with care providers who can help. Under the tongue thermometers totally work too, just remember, if you use that type of thermometer but under the armpit, it’s generally understood you should add a degree because axillary temps are usually 97.6 degrees (normal body temp is 98.6). We most recently purchased a thermometer that does a forehead temp as well as an ear temperature. The readings can be erratic and super low sometimes so I’m not relying on it 100%.
- Blood pressure monitor: We use a simple generic wrist bp monitor we got from Walgreens and it works great. Truth is, not every monitor is going to read exactly the same. And nurses will tell you that doing it the old school way with cuff and stethascope is the best way to get a true reading. But, short of learning how to do that, we have found our wrist monitor to be perfectly capable and helpful. It stores readings historically, works quickly and helps us keep track of Mom’s blood pressure over time so we can notice patterns or be alarmed when it is way off. * Note: Because of her MS and seizures, Mom has a lot of tremors. Wrist monitors will display an error or simply give you a bad reading if the arm it is reading on is shaking a lot. Whenever you take a blood pressure reading, follow the directions and make sure your loved one is soothed, calm and unmoving. In mom’s case, we take it in her hospital bed with her feet raised and her back sitting up slightly.
- Pulsoximeter: This little meter that goes on one finger like a duck’s mouth can quickly read the O2 saturation % of your blood as well as tell you your pulse rate. If the person you are caring for is under the weather, monitoring their O2 levels is super important to make sure that their airway, lungs and ability to breathe regularly are not compromised.
- Stethascope: We all loved playing doctor with our fake stethascopes when we were little. Make sure you have a real one on hand, just in case you are concerned about breathing issues or notice O2 levels are low. Our nurses have taught us that crackling, bubbling or wheezing sounds in the lungs can be clear indicators of pneumonia so we can act accordingly if we hear that. This tool might be overkill for your family, we truly don’t use it regularly, but it’s handy just in case.
- Other medical equipment you may need: Obviously if your loved one has diabetes, you’ll have a blood sugar monitor on hand, and so on and so forth for their specific needs or illnesses. For Mom who has trouble with aspirating, we have a cough assist and suction device on hand. There are tons of tools out there to help you with giving great care – talk to your GP and ask, ask, ask! Thanks for checking out these ideas from Give a Care.