The home environment - Assisting a family member


Assisting a family member

Assisting a family member

The home environment

Microclimate Hand washing and individual safety devices (PPE) The need for safety: prevention of falls Safety and the home environment The home for people who are not self-sufficient Disinfectants for environments and furnishings: indications and contraindications
  • Microclimate
  • Hand washing and individual safety devices (PPE)
  • The need for safety: prevention of falls
  • Security and home environment
  • The home for non self-sufficient people
  • Disinfectants for rooms and furnishings: indications and contraindications

The house has always represented the most intimate environment, one in which to live, grow, love and suffer. The house is more than a set of walls, it is the expression of who we are: "order, cleanliness, confusion …". The warmth of a home is the warmth of the people who live there.

Think of how the house has changed over the centuries. With the passage of time people and accommodation have changed, but the house remains the symbol of the hearth and of everything that is produced and that counts in life. The house allows you to truly live in space, to move and breathe within the space of its walls, and it is precisely in this environment that we seek safety.

Security is undoubtedly a very important need for people; a lot of effort is made to feel safer at home and this aspect should never be overlooked.

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The term microclimate refers to the environmental conditions that can be found in a "restricted" place such as housing. An adequate microclimate must take many aspects into consideration; in addition to ventilation, humidity and temperature, it is necessary that the environment in which you live can also guarantee safety and, finally, comfort.

The main purpose of a correct microclimate is to favor a therapeutic environment that can increase the health and well-being of the sick person. An unhealthy environment, too humid or excessively cold or hot, requires the patient to spend a lot of energy to defend himself from the aggressions of the climate and all this takes away strength and exposes him to easy relapses. In industrialized countries it may seem ridiculous to make such references: the houses have almost all the heating and few individuals are unable to defend themselves from adverse weather conditions, but even in the best houses, pathological microclimates are often found, for example windows that do not come never open for "fear" of letting air in and therefore getting sick, tropical temperatures in bedrooms, bacteria cultures in dehumidifiers.

Environmental safety is also based on the knowledge of all the factors that influence people's health, both negative and positive, and that can contribute to maintaining it.

Each individual needs several cubic meters of air per hour (about 30) to have good ventilation in a confined environment, and the increase in carbon dioxide, determined by the exhalation of the patient and the people residing in the house, can cause feeling unwell. Furthermore, toxins eliminated by the patient make the atmosphere particularly "pungent". The care of ventilation is therefore of fundamental importance.

Air exchange takes place through the natural, subsidiary and artificial ways. The exchange of air naturally occurs with closed doors and windows. The speed of this change is influenced by many factors, in particular the difference in temperature existing between inside and outside: the more the temperatures are similar, the lower the air circulation.

The old houses (and unfortunately not only those), built with walls that remain constantly humid, prevent the exchange of air. Some walls are built with more breathable materials than others.

These variables and others are often responsible for decreased ventilation, which is why it is necessary to resort to the use of additional ventilation.

Subsidiary ventilation is carried out through doors, windows and vasistas; the air can enter the house in a more or less correct way, that is, indirectly or directly. A jet of air that hits the patient is never advisable; instead, it is preferable that the air flows freely and indirectly. The use of vasistas offers good guarantees of safety since the moving segment is at the top. The natural tendency of hot air is to move upwards, while cold tend to reach the floor. The vasistas, remaining slightly open, allows cold air to enter and warm up before touching the floor, therefore it is an excellent means of subsidiary ventilation.

If you do not have a vasistas, it is essential, in the winter months, to open the window slightly and not on the patient's side, or to open the windows for a few minutes when the patient is in the bathroom or in the kitchen.

The air conditioner, on the other hand, is an artificial ventilation system consisting of a device that sucks in the air from the outside by applying predefined parameters (relating to temperature and humidity).

In certain circumstances, for example when a patient has a fever, the exchange of air must increase considerably, even four times more than the need in normal conditions.

A patient is very affected by environmental variations (thermal stress): when bedridden, in fact, the sensitivity for stimuli that otherwise would not bother is greatly amplified, and it is precisely for this reason that some patients sometimes seem particularly pedantic.

It is important to avoid drafts from reaching the subject.

The cure of temperature is a necessary aspect for health and, while the healthy individual can use his energies to adapt, the patient does not do this adaptation as well.

Under normal conditions, the ideal temperature varies from 18 to 20 ° C, but the sedentary nature of the patient may require even higher temperatures. In fact, almost all the infirm complain of a general feeling of cold "in depth".

Good heating must first of all be harmless, that is, it must not produce toxic gases or saturate the environment with fine particles, it must be adjustable and it must not dry the air.

Many homes heated with a stove have places where the heat is intense and areas where it is cold. Temperature fluctuations, especially those between the living room and bedroom, are to be avoided because they are very harmful.

The main heating methods found in homes can use an autonomous or centralized system.

Autonomous heating offers undoubted economic advantages and reduced emissions of pollutants but can sometimes be very dangerous. Old heating methods, such as wood, gas or kerosene stoves, require skill and dexterity. The main dangers that these methods can entail are: fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Centralized systems have the advantage of being safer, particularly if the users are elderly people. The temperature to be reached in a confined environment during the summer season should not exceed five degrees lower than the outside temperature.

The ideal humidity in a house varies from 50 to 55%, but in some cases there are much wider excursions (20-70%). Generally speaking, a situation of environmental dryness is more tolerable than one of excessive humidity. Asthmatic subjects benefit from drier environments than bronchitis, which prefer higher humidity rates.

The droplets of water on the glass are always the expression of an environment saturated with water vapor. To maintain the right humidity it is possible to use humidifiers or containers filled with water on the radiators, which must be kept clean to prevent the easy spread of bacteria into the environment.

In case of excessive humidity, it is necessary to increase ventilation or heating. The use of dehumidifiers can be advantageous in very humid houses; however, if they are not used correctly, they dry out the air quickly. To always have temperature and humidity under control, you can buy simple environmental thermometers.

Lighting is very important in carrying out daily activities, therefore correctly adjusting the intensity of the light helps to maintain normal biological rhythms.

The ability to have easy access to the switch at night prevents the risk of falls and trauma. Adequate lighting also helps prevent eye fatigue caused by reading. The difficulty in tolerating light is called photophobia and occurs frequently in people who have a fever or suffer from particular diseases. In any case, all glare phenomena should be avoided. Natural light should always be preferred over other types of lighting. The brightness inside the houses depends on many factors: number of windows, height of the windows in relation to the ceiling, colors of the walls. Ideal artificial light must have some characteristics: it should be similar to natural light, not overheat, provide fixed light and, finally, it should not dazzle.

The main lighting systems are:

  • incandescent lamps;
  • neon lamps;
  • halogen lamps;
  • low consumption lamps.

Light distribution can take place directly or indirectly. The first lighting mode tends to dazzle but is cheaper, while the second provides a less dazzling and more uniform light (however, it is more expensive).

Small night lights can facilitate travel without disturbing sleep and are particularly useful for giving children safety.

Noise is an annoying stimulus that manifests itself acoustically producing psychological malaise and, in some cases, when it is too intense and repeated, it can cause physical damage (tympanic rupture). It is a variable that should be carefully monitored as it creates a lot of trouble for the patient.

In principle, the noise activates a series of events that can be traced back to a stimulation caused by the adrenaline introduced into the bloodstream: irritability, arterial hypertension, gastric acidity, altered attention and sleep.

The noises produced in the home must be prevented both through conduct respectful of the need for peace of all who live there, and in particular of the sick person, and by adopting special measures, for example with the lubrication of the hinges, with the volume control of TV, hi-fi, tone of voice and telephone (as regards external noises, such as those caused by traffic, work, construction sites etc., however, they cannot always be controlled).

All these simple precautions, if they are followed regularly, can manage to create a "right atmosphere" in any season.

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