Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate: Dr. Cynthia Speaks

Topic: Durable Medical Equipment when a Loved One Dies

When loved ones are aging in place or coping with an illness or disability, it can be hard to keep up with all of the physical needs, let alone the equipment needs and the companies that provide the services, right?

Many aging loved ones have durable medical equipment (DME) in the home. Some equipment is life-sustaining to allow aging in place to occur. Equipment like ventilators, oxygen, CPAP and BiPAP, sleep apnea machines, and nebulizers. Other equipment may include hospital beds, wheelchairs, walkers, scooters, wound care products, incontinence supplies, urology, and ostomy supplies, and the list can be long. Some DME is in the home for weeks, months, and often, years. What happens to the DME after a loved one dies? What are the steps needed to dispose of or return DME?

First, we need to know the name of the medical equipment company. Next, we need to determine if the equipment or supplies are worthy of donation. If DME is in the home for an extended period it may need to be discarded. Companies may have closed, and purchased by other agencies, making old contact information invalid. Some equipment is rented, while some are purchased. Returning rented equipment soon to avoid additional charges is necessary. This may be a task that can be delegated to your support systems, as the primary caregiver and business agent deal with the pressing issues of preparing for a funeral arrangement or a memorial service. Removing DME from the residence of the loved-one passing brings its own feelings of reality; so make sure you are sensitive to this, because, it is another reminder of loss and the end of the caregiving journey.

What To Do with Durable Medical Equipment

If DME is in good condition, it can be donated to a worthy charity or church. Organizations in your local area also take gently used equipment and some senior centers. Advocates for World Health welcomes donations from individuals. American Mobility Outreach welcomes donations of new or used power chairs or scooters and refurbishes them to later be given for free to individuals in need.

Local locations may include reuse centers, nonprofits, Goodwill stores, Salvation Army stores, nursing homes, veterans centers, and some Rotary clubs. Check your local social services and community eldercare organizations, for they may also have insight into donating DME. As Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, this discussion is real, raw, and first-hand experience. It was a process! It Was A Process! It was a process to remove the no longer needed equipment. Be safe! Be well.

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Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman

Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman

Dr. Hickman is the author of From the Lens of Daughter, Nurse, and Caregiver: A Journey of Duty and Honor and The Black Book of Important for Caregivers.