Home Healthcare

Healthcare Provider Office Visits

You can get all the medical equipment and supplies you need, like lift chairs, rolling walkers and scooters, at many larger pharmacies. If an item is not in stock, speak to the pharmacist about special ordering what you need.

Improving your mobility

  • A mobility aid like a cane or walker can help if you have difficulty walking, climbing stairs or standing up. A cane or walker is also helpful if you have weaker muscles than usual, have had a leg injury or surgery, have trouble seeing, or have a history of falling or loss of balance. Talk with your healthcare provider about any mobility changes you are experiencing.
  • Keep active. Thirty minutes of activity a day can help maintain and improve balance and mobility. It increases strength and flexibility and decreases joint stiffness, which helps lower the chances of falling. Exercises targeting legs increase strength, which help support balance during movement. Talk to your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program.

Using canes

Talk to your healthcare provider to help you decide if you need a cane. If you do need one, he or she can fit a cane to your height and physical needs and show you how to use it. Canes have different handle grips that may make it easier to hold and bases with one or four tips, which help with balance or support. A couch cane helps you stand up after being seated, but it does not move.

Here are some tips for walking with a cane on different surfaces.

  • Walking: Place the cane in the hand opposite the weaker leg, so if your left leg hurts, put the cane in your right hand. Move the cane and your weaker leg a short distance in front of you and then move your stronger leg. The cane and weaker leg should touch the ground at the same time.
  • Going upstairs: Grip the railing with the hand opposite the weaker leg. Next, move the stronger leg up to the next step and then move the weaker leg to the same step, followed by the cane.
  • Going downstairs: Grip the railing with the hand on the side of the weaker leg. Next, move your cane down to the next step and then move the weaker leg to the same step, followed by the stronger leg.

How to choose the proper cane length

Stand up straight with your shoes on and arms at your sides. The top of the cane should reach the crease on the underside of your wrist. If the cane is a good fit, your elbow will be flexed from 15-20 degrees when you hold the cane while standing.

How to choose a walker

Using a walker gives you additional stability when you walk. A walker can support a weak lower body, which can happen because of certain health conditions or surgeries like hip or knee replacements. A walker also helps reduce stress on the hips and legs and allows the joints to heal without additional pressure from the body’s weight.

Your healthcare professional can help choose a walker that fits your height and physical needs. Walkers come without wheels, or with just two wheels. Two-wheeled walkers are used by people with a weaker upper body, so that they can avoid picking up the walker. When using walkers on flat surfaces, it is important to keep the walker’s legs even with the ground while taking small steps.

The difference between a walker and a rollator

If you need more support, but still have some leg strength, a rollator might be right for you. Rollators are like walkers, but they have three or four wheels. Three-wheel rollators are lighter, smaller and easier to move around. Four-wheel rollators are larger and more stable. Some rollators have seats for resting, hand-brakes for stopping, or a basket for storage. They also fold for easy transport and storage.

Wheelchairs and transport chairs

People use wheelchairs and transport chairs for mobility when recovering from surgery or injury. The person sitting in a wheelchair can move the chair, but a person sitting in a transport chair needs a caregiver to move the chair. Both chairs help people who have lower body weakness, spinal cord injuries or conditions that may make walking and standing difficult. They are also for people who do not have the ability to move their lower or upper body.

There are many kinds of manual wheelchairs or transport chairs available. Some are light and can be folded, and others are heavier and don’t fold. If your upper body is weak, your healthcare professional may suggest a power chair, which moves on its own by battery power. Power chairs range in weight, size and battery life, and some can fold for transport. Consider purchasing a cushion if you sit for extended periods of time.

How to choose a power scooter

Power scooters give extra support for people who use a cane or walker inside and need more mobility outside. In order to remain stable when using a scooter, it’s necessary to have some upper body strength and be able to work the controls with your hands. Some scooters have seats that turn so you can easily get in and out of them.

  • A three-wheel power scooter is lighter, more portable and best on even ground.
  • A four-wheel power scooter is heavier, more stable and better for uneven surfaces.

How to choose a lift chair

Lift chairs are cushioned chairs that can raise or lower to help you stand up and sit down, and they are available in different styles and sizes. Some questions to ask when choosing one include:

  • What chair size (width and depth) will work for you and your space?
  • How much weight can the chair hold?
  • How long will you sit in the chair?
  • Will you sleep in the chair?
  • Do you want the chair to recline, sit and lift?
  • Do you want chair controls on the left or right side?
  • What kind of fabric do you like?
  • Do you want a lift chair that can plug into an electrical outlet with a battery backup system?

Bathroom safety

Certain health conditions can make it difficult to get around, both inside and outside of the bathroom. Staying safe in the bathroom is important for people with limited vision, joint pain, muscle weakness or other physical problems. If you have any these problems, it is recommended to make some changes in your bathroom. Here are several ways to improve your bathroom safety:

  • Wear nonslip shoes to prevent falls and make it safer to walk in your bathroom.
  • Put in extra lighting, such as night-lights, on the way from the bed to the bathroom, and in the bathroom, so that you can see better. Use a lighted light switch cover so that you can see it clearly.
  • Change the water heater temperature setting to a maximum of 120 degrees to reduce your risk for burns.
  • Put in a single lever faucet on the sink for better water temperature control.
  • Pad your faucets with faucet cushions to protect your head in case of a fall.
  • Carry a cordless telephone or cellphone with you into the bathroom, or wear an emergency response device that you can easily reach in case of a fall. Keep them away from and out of the water.
  • Unplug electrical appliances that are not being used to avoid the risk of electrical accidents. Keep electrical wires far from water sources.
  • Do not store your prescription, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and supplements in the bathroom. High humidity and heat may decrease their ability to work.

Dry shampoo

Many people use dry shampoo to keep their hair clean. It is a dry substance, made of aerosol propellants, absorbent materials, solvents, conditioners and fragrances, that can be used to clean hair without using water. Dry shampoo absorbs oil from the scalp and hair, and can be used once in a while instead of a hair rinse. This shampoo comes in either a powder or liquid form, or an aerosol spray. If you are busy and don’t have the time it takes to prepare for and take a shower, dry shampoo is a good backup. It will save you time and energy, and is hassle-free.

Disposable gloves

There are regular disposable gloves available at any pharmacy. They come in different sizes, so make sure you choose the right size for your hand. Gloves that are too big make it hard to handle objects and allow germs to get inside more easily than more fitted gloves. Gloves that are too small may rip.

For some care procedures, a caregiver will need to use sterile gloves. Sterile means they are germ-free. These gloves also come in different sizes, so be sure to know your size.

Daily living aids

Everyday activities like cooking meals or getting dressed can be hard to do if you have pain, stiffness, or certain diseases and conditions that can make moving more difficult. Finding ways to continue doing them as safely as possible is important for independent living.

Products for hand problems

Many diseases and conditions make it harder for your hands to move, including arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and carpal tunnel syndrome. But there are daily living aids that can help you continue your daily activities. Products that make it easier to work with your hands include jar openers, zipper pulls and buttonhooks, which pull buttons through buttonholes. Also, ask your pharmacist about easy-to-open medicine bottle caps, but be sure to keep those products out of children’s reach as they are not childproof.

Products for arm and shoulder problems

Bathing and dressing can be hard to do if you cannot move your arms well or reach very far. Many daily living aids can help, such as dressing sticks that make it easier to put clothes and jackets on and take them off, especially if you need to bring your arms up or behind your body. If you find that you need things that are out of reach, you can use a reacher, which can help you grasp things without having to climb up a step stool or ladder. Long-handle bath sponges can also help if you have trouble moving your shoulders or arms.

What to do about hearing loss

If you cannot hear well, then it may not be enjoyable to talk on the telephone or watch television. Amplifiers can help you hear better on the phone or when watching television by increasing the volume. Headphones can also help you hear the television better. Headphones can have wires, or may be wireless. Wireless headphones also help you keep cords off the floor to help prevent falls.

If you experience a loss of hearing and are not sure about what daily living aids are right for you, ask your healthcare provider about getting your hearing tested to see if you would benefit from a hearing aid.

Products for back or knee pain

If you have trouble bending, sock aids may make it easier to pull on socks. Elastic shoelaces and extra-long handle shoehorns help when putting on shoes because you do not have to reach as far.

Vein problems

Veins move blood throughout the legs and the rest of the body, and back to the heart. Muscles around veins and pressure from vein walls help to pump blood. Vein problems, like swelling (edema) and deteriorated veins and valves, can lead to venous diseases, which are veins that cannot move blood very well. Damaged or weakened vein walls or stretched or injured vessels cause venous diseases. When this happens, the veins cannot move blood back to the heart. When blood doesn’t move forward efficiently, it can cause swelling in the legs. The following venous conditions affect the body’s ability to return blood to the heart:

  • Varicose veins are twisted and swollen veins just under the surface of the skin. When too much blood collects in the veins, it causes them to become enlarged and more visible than usual. Symptoms include leg swelling, an achy or heavy feeling in your legs and rashes.
  • Venous insufficiency is a condition in which it is difficult for the veins to send blood from the legs back to the heart. Symptoms include leg or ankle swelling, varicose veins and pain that gets worse when standing.
  • Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot in a vein deep in the body. Clots can form in injured veins, which may swell. If they move to the lungs, clots may cause a pulmonary embolism, which can be life-threatening. Symptoms include swelling and leg pain, warmth or redness in the affected leg, however many people have no symptoms.
  • Superficial venous thrombosis a blood clot in a vein close to the skin surface. Symptoms include redness, swelling around veins and pain.

Treatment for venous diseases

Medicines or surgery may help remove blood clots and prevent them from returning. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare provider.

Preventing venous diseases

Exercising helps muscles stimulate veins, helping to push blood back to the heart. Elevating the legs above the heart and using elastic compression stockings can help keep blood from collecting in the lower legs. Both help prevent blood from pooling. Losing weight helps reduce pressure on the legs. Avoid standing and sitting in the same position and crossing your legs because it makes veins work harder to move blood forward. Eat fewer salty foods, because too much salt can cause leg swelling. And avoid wearing high-heeled shoes because they keep calf muscles flexed, which can affect blood flow.

Edema facts

Edema is swelling in the body caused by too much fluid. Extra fluid is caused by sitting or standing in one place for too long, eating salty foods, taking certain medicines, and medical conditions like congestive heart failure. In addition to swelling, symptoms include stretched out and shiny-looking skin.

Treatments for edema

Treatments include lifestyle changes, like avoiding salty foods, elevating the legs, and being more active. Your doctor may prescribe medicine to treat the cause of your edema, or compression stockings to help reduce swelling.

Compression therapy

Compression therapy involves wearing compression stockings that add pressure to vein walls and muscles. This pressure helps stop blood from collecting in the lower legs. Gradient therapy is a form of compression therapy, which may be used to prevent leg swelling. Gradient therapy stockings put greater pressure on the ankle with decreasing pressure moving up the leg.

Types of compression stockings

There are three main types of compression stockings. Each offers different levels of pressure:

  • Support pantyhose apply the least amount of pressure because there is all-over leg compression.
  • Over-the-counter gradient compression hose apply more pressure.
  • Prescription-strength gradient compression hose apply the most pressure. Your healthcare provider or a specially trained professional can help you find the prescription-strength gradient compression hose that meet your medical needs. Wear your hose every day and put them on before getting out of bed to help reduce swelling.

Prevent falls in your home

These simple changes can increase home safety:

  • Install bright lights in hallways, stairs and bathrooms. Place lights at the top and bottom of stairs with light switches in both places.
  • Install handrails on both sides of stairs to increase stability.
  • Secure carpets to floors and stairs, or remove them. Put nonslip strips on bare floors and stairs.
  • Avoid climbing ladders or getting in awkward positions that can increase your risk of falling.
  • Clear away any cords, furniture, papers or pet bowls in hallways or pathways throughout your home.
  • Install grab bars inside bathtubs and showers and around toilets for better balance, and use bars that can handle the weight of the person using them. Do not use towel bars for support because they are not built for this use.
  • Carry a cordless phone or cellphone with you into the bathroom, or wear an emergency response device that you can reach in case of a fall. Keep them away from and out of water.



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Constance Brown-Riggs, MSEd, RD, CDE, CDN—an award-winning RD, certified diabetes educator, and past national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is the author of The African American Guide to Living Well With Diabetes, which received the Favorably Reviewed designation from the American Association of Diabetes Educators, and Eating Soulfully and Healthfully with Diabetes.

Dr. Lori Shemek, PhD, CNC, CLC, the best-selling author of “Fire-Up Your Fat Burn! and leading health and weight loss expert, is also known as “The Inflammation Terminator.” She has made it her mission to educate the public on the toxic effects of certain foods and lifestyle choices and how they create inflammation in the body. She is a leading authority on inflammation and its role in weight loss, preventing disease and optimizing health.

Rebecca Bitzer – MS, RD/LD, CEDRD is an award-winning Registered Dietitian, writer, speaker, blogger, and REBEL Dietitian business owner. Rebecca and her team of six Registered Dietitians have counseled thousands of clients struggling with diabetes for over twenty-five years. They work closely with each other along with internists, endocrinologists, therapists, and families.

Maureen Sullivan – RN, CDE has worked for many years as a Registered Nurse, most of them in emergency and trauma services. She is a Certified Emergency Nurse, Certified Diabetes Educator, and the former manager of a hospital stroke program. Maureen’s wealth of knowledge, passion for nursing and education, and ability to engage people makes her an excellent teacher and a captivating lecturer. Recently, Maureen has been concentrating on writing, speaking and teaching, as well as working on her award-winning weekly podcast, “The Health and Humor Show.”

Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN is a nutrition communications specialist, registered dietitian in private practice, social media consultant, speaker, spokesperson and corporate consultant. She is currently the owner of Nutrition Starring YOU, LLC and www.NutritionStarringYOU.com. Lauren strongly believes that we should “Think Healthy, not Skinny”, and “EveryBODY is unique, your diet should be too”. Lauren was co-host of the Family Food Experts Kitchen radio show, available for listening on iHeart Radio and iTunes. Also known as one of the “NutritionBabes”, Lauren co-founded NutritionBabes.com, a popular Health and Wellness website in 2009. NutritionBabes.com was voted one of Healthline’s Top 100 Health Blogs in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Mark Heyman, PhD, CDE is a clinical health psychologist and the director of the Center for Diabetes and Mental Health (CDMH). In addition to treating patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, Dr. Heyman provides training for health care providers on how to identify and address the emotional and behavioral aspects of diabetes in their patients. He also works with pharmaceutical and medical device companies to help them understand these issues and incorporate this information into their sales, marketing, and patient education materials. He is particularly interested in empirically supported behavioral interventions that promote behavior change and improve physical and mental health in people with diabetes.

Katie Ferraro, MPH, RD, CDE is a nationally-recognized registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and author with an expertise in nutrition communications and curriculum development. She is the co-author of “Diet Therapy in Advanced Practice Nursing” (McGraw Hill, 2014) and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Nutrition at the University of California San Francisco and University of San Diego’s graduate schools of nursing.

Dr. Beverly S. Adler, PhD, CDE (aka “Dr. Bev”) is a clinical psychologist and certified diabetes educator, author and speaker. She specializes treating the emotional issues of people with diabetes. In her private practice, she provides individual, family and/or group therapy utilizing a cognitive behavior therapy orientation, combined with a spiritual approach. Her goal is to empower her patients to manage their diabetes.

Dr. Bev is the author of two self-help diabetes books. She has written numerous articles which are published in print and online – always focused on diabetes from the emotional perspective. She also speaks to audiences of people living with diabetes, as well as, to audiences of healthcare professionals and diabetes educators. Dr. Bev, herself, has been living successfully with type 1 diabetes for 40+ years.

In August 2016, Dr. Bev was honored to receive the “CDE Entrepreneur of the Year” Award from her Metropolitan NY Association of Diabetes Educators.

Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, FAND is an internationally recognized nutrition and diabetes expert with more than two decades experience. Through writing, speaking and one-on-one coaching, Jill empowers people to grab control of their health. She has worked as both a nutrition counselor and a diabetes educator in the hospital and research settings, and now in private practice in Newport News, VA. Jill is known for her practical approach and caring attitude. Her no-nonsense strategies to eating well include foods that both taste good and are good for you.

Marlene Koch (pronounced ‘cook’) is a nationally recognized nutritionist, popular TV personality and New York Times bestselling author. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from UCLA with a Bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science. She is a registered dietitian and one of a select group of dietitians to hold an advanced certificate in Child and Adolescent Weight Management from the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.

Marlene has taught professional chefs from the American Culinary Federation the principles of healthy cooking and eating. She has been adjunct Nutrition professor and cooking instructor for Columbus State College and the Columbus State Culinary Academy, and she is a nationally recognized expert in weight loss, diabetes, child and adolescent nutrition, and sugar substitutes.

Marlene has sold over one million cookbooks, and is a regular guest on QVC.

Barbara Ruhs – MS, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and owner of Neighborhood Nutrition LLC, a consulting firm focused on providing solutions to help food companies and supermarkets improve consumer health & wellness. She’s a former supermarket dietitian and has run a successful business for 17 years. A leader in the field of nutrition, her mission is to help people by impacting the way food is produced, marketed and sold. She’s a strong advocate for supermarket dietitians and believes the retail food industry has the greatest potential to impact public health.

Cheryl Orlansky has over 25 years of experience in health promotion and chronic disease prevention and management. Her first career as a registered dental hygienist led her towards a path of wellness and nutrition! Her expertise is in diabetes, weight management and cardiovascular disease for individuals and groups. She works in a large private practice including endocrinology, internal medicine, rheumatology, neurology and sleep medicine. She is an award winning dietitian with current leadership positions in state and local dietetics organizations.

She has been interviewed and quoted in media outlets for WebMD, Atlanta Sports and Fitness, Georgia Public Broadcasting, and the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. She has partnered with V-103 Radio to lead supermarket tours as part of a community outreach during National Nutrition Month.

Cheryl helps her clients reach balance through lifestyle choices: cooking and eating, activity and purpose in life.

Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and classically-trained chef. With a passion for helping people (including her father) with diabetes, she’s author of The With or Without Meat Cookbook: The Flexible Approach to Flavorful Diabetes Cooking and the award-winning The All‐Natural Diabetes Cookbook, both published by the American Diabetes Association. Jackie is also author of 1,000 Low-Calorie Recipes and Big Green Cookbook. Her next book, The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook—2nd Edition, was published in 2015.

Nutritionist Rania Batayneh, MPH is the author of the best-selling book, The One One One Diet. She holds a master’s degree in public health nutrition from the University of Michigan School of Public Health and is also a Wellcoaches Certified Health and Wellness Coach endorsed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

OmnichannelHealth Media, publisher of DiabetesDigest.com, does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See additional information.