Medical Equipment at Home

7 Tips to Make Your Home Look Less Like a Hospital

Is your house feeling more like a hospital than a home? Maybe it's the medical equipment everywhere. Pill containers covering counters and tabletops. Medical notes and directions all over the refrigerator, where kids' drawings and pretty postcards used to be front and center. A clinical atmosphere is a common side effect of family caregiving -- but there are ways to reclaim the homey feel.

Consider these simple ideas that offer a big payoff with less stress:

1. Paint the bottom half of the wall a dark color to hide scuffs.

If moving around furniture, walkers, and other items is causing scuff and scrape marks on your walls, try adding a stick-on border at chair-rail height to visually divide the room. Then paint the bottom portion below the border a color that masks the marks, while leaving the top half of the walls light and bright.

2. Include an easy chair or recliner in the bedroom.

Both you and your loved one can use it, and it makes the room feel less clinical and more cozy.

3. Hide the commode.

Nothing makes a home feel more hospital-like than lots of medical equipment strewn about -- especially a portable commode at the bedside. Instead, try these alternatives: If you have a large closet, clear it out for a makeshift bathroom, a more private option that helps your loved one feel less like he or she is toileting in the middle of the room. Or place the potty behind a stand-alone screen in a corner of the room. If you're a seamstress (or know one), try stitching up a "potty cozy" -- a pretty cover to put over the commode when it's not in use and that's a step up from a blanket. (Make sure it's made of washable fabric, and clean it often.)

4. Tape instructions about medications inside the cabinet door where you store them.

This is a better spot than leaving directions outside the bathroom, so that you have to look at them all day long. Do the same thing with appointment reminder cards and notes from aides or other caregivers. Avoid the refrigerator door; keep cheerier images there.

5. Use wicker baskets to corral medications, cups, paperwork, and other "caregiving stuff."

You can use such baskets on countertops or the tops of dressers; that's a big improvement from letting items slide about uncontained. Not only does this method look neater and warmer, but you can easily transfer the baskets from room to room as needed.

6. Dress up windows in a room being used as a bedroom.

If the room previously didn't have any window dressings, spruce them up. Hang inexpensive curtains on a spring-loaded suspension rod or a shower-curtain rod -- no screwdrivers necessary! Consider spending a little more for light-blocking curtains if trouble sleeping is an issue.

7. Use rope lights to guide the way to the bathroom.

This technique introduces nighttime safety while providing a warm, decorative glow.

over 2 years ago, said...

Love these ideas . I would like to my bathroom look like a spa, but not sure how to do it. Any ideas? It's very small.

over 3 years ago, said...

common sense prevails

over 4 years ago, said...

Hi Joyg - I would suggest turning the Caregivers bathroom into a garden. If you turn the loved ones' bathroom into a garden, you may find the men peeing on the tree in the pot. I think that's what you meant, but just in case, this is my suggestion.....

over 4 years ago, said...

Tips from Joy: In the patients bathroom, turn it into a garden. Fake tree with birds and pictures of flowers on the wall. Hide on incontinence supplies and meds. If you have two bathrooms, turn one into you private sacred space. Use beautiful glasses and dishes to hold make up. Cover pretty bowl for Jewelry. Peaceful, meditation and postive pictures on the wall. Make it a space you truly feel loved. Sometimes this is the only time out we have.

over 4 years ago, said...

I love the idea of the rope lights. So much more classy than a night light. And the baskets for the medication. Right now my husband's are on top of the refrigerator in a plastic container but all the tops stick out. It looks like a pharmacy shelf on top of our refrigerator. Now I just have to convince him that these are good ideas. He's very strong willed!!

over 4 years ago, said...

Great article. For Mom, during her Hospice time, I had a binder so that caregivers could record what happened during their shift, including doses of morphine and ativan. Got way too detailed information from the main caregiver, just right from the others. Binder was also nice so my siblings could review, if they wanted to see details - mostly they didn't want to know. As we get ready for Dad to be in hospice care (hopefully very soon), we will continue on as we have been doing - will have a binder for notes, and a phone tree.

over 4 years ago, said...

We have a white board for exchanging info with Grandma's chore worker, recording weights, reminders to pickup prescriptions, and get more gloves and diapers. It is tucked away in the short hallway to the garage instead of in her bedroom or out in the open in the kitchen. It has helped keep all of this kind of information together instead of spread out, lost, or overlooked. The board also holds magnets so papers, when necessary, can be posted. I am not a fan of papers up on display; would prefer they are put away with a reminder to care for them and where they are.

over 4 years ago, said...

Good points, especially the one about providing night safety with a rope light. Such a simple, practical idea!

over 4 years ago, said...

We used an office chair in Bob's room. I could roll right up to his bed to talk or roll the chair back out of my way easily. It was also extra seating for visitors as well. Make sure YOUR space as a caregiver gives you relief. I dressed up my bathroom with beautiful pictures of on the wall, a single flower in a small vase, and I used old glass pieces to hold my makeup. When I took a break in my bathroom room it took me away from a hospital setting. I also had a special place to look when we sat side by side watching TV because he wanted me close. Directly in front of me I told old small glasses and put electric candles inside. Cheap at the Dollar Store. I had a statue I loved that I could concentrate on to find peace instead of tv shows I didn't care about. In his bathroom, I hide everything inside drawers and cabinets. In one corner was an artificial tree with red fake birds in it. Matching red towels were used. Pictures of a jungle on the walls. It was a haven for us both as he used the toilet or I gave him his shower.

over 4 years ago, said...

#1 is a fantastic idea, especially if your loved one relies on a motorized wheelchair to convey them around the house and you live in an older house (i.e. more than 10 - 15 years old) where the rooms and hallways will be more narrow and not provide your loved one with the turning radius (radii) necessary to miss every wall or corner. Mom and I both rely on 7-day pill organizers to keep us straight on what medications we need to take when (I use one while Mom uses three), but it's a good idea to label every one of those pill organizers to indicate that one is to be used for the morning pills, one for the afternoon pills, and one for the pills taken at bedtime (as a per instance). Or you could color code each pill organizers and write down the color code on index cards that you laminate and place EVERYWHERE, including your and your loved one's purses. Then you can tuck away the pill bottles so they won't be on full display.

over 4 years ago, said...

keep a mini fridge in the bedroom . You can store water, juices, snacks , medications and even small plastic cups. They come in white black or brown so you can choose the color that fits in with the decor of the room. V.ming