3 Home Health Tools Every Senior Should Have

It might seem like “checking vitals” is only a job for the nurse in your doctor’s office, but with more than 70 million adults over 50 in the U.S. suffering from at least one chronic condition, being able to monitor health markers at home is becoming a more prevalent necessity. Beef up your first aid kit at home with these basic health tools and tips:

 1 Thermometer. Checking your temperature is easier than ever with advancements in digital medical technology. No longer do you have to stick a thermometer under your tongue and wait two minutes, worrying about whether the hot tea you just drank will affect the reading. Quickly get accurate temperature readings instead with dual function digital thermometers that take instant readings via your forehead or ear.

Being able to accurately monitor your temperature will help you or your loved one log a baseline and quickly alert you to potential temperature spikes which might indicate an infection. Recording temperatures at home also equips you with more information you can share with your doctor and care team to help make a diagnosis.

2 Blood Pressure Monitor. New guidelines from the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiologists strongly recommend routine home monitoring of blood pressure, especially for the 75 million adults in the U.S. who have high blood pressure. Taking daily readings of your blood pressure informs you of what your “normal” blood pressure range is and gives you data you need to start a conversation with your doctor if your readings are consistently high or low.

With high blood pressure being a key risk factor for heart disease and diabetes, home monitoring also helps you take faster action to address hypertensive issues and prevent lifelong complications. Always try and take your blood pressure around the same time of day, sitting down in a relaxed setting. Many digital monitors record historical readings for you, however, you may want to additionally write them down or save them in a log on your phone or computer.

3 O2 Monitor. Curious what the small light up device nurses slip over your finger at the doctor’s office or hospital is? These nifty tools are known as O2 monitors or pulse oximeters and they measure the oxygen saturation levels in your bloodstream. Low oxygen saturation levels can indicate potential issues with your respiratory system which are preventing you from getting all the oxygen you need to function.

Chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis, COPD, and emphysema as well as prolonged inactivity and obesity can increase the risk for lung infections like pneumonia. Being able to consistently measure oxygen saturation levels can help you or your caregiver know whether shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing have become life-threatening and require prompt medical attention.

In addition to these home health tools, you may also want to consider storing a stethoscope, wound supplies, and a blood glucose meter in your home health kit as well (depending on your need for them). Many of these medical devices can be found in your pharmacy, at big box stores like Target or Wal-Mart, or online; and they are typically powered by a couple small batteries. To gauge the accuracy of tools like your blood pressure monitor, take it with you to your next doctor’s appointment and compare your readings to the one they take there; or if you are visited by a home health nurse, compare your readings with the ones they get.

Self-monitoring basic vitals not only gives you more information about your health and wellbeing to share with your care team, but it gives you more control over your own health! When you generate a really clear understanding of your baseline blood pressure, for example, you can set goals for lowering it and embrace the process as you work to achieve those goals, clearly seeing how diet changes and exercise help you lower your daily readings.

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