MOORHEAD-A shower bench and grab bars might be all someone needs to stay at home, and that's what Torrey Hovland and Carl Loge aim to do with their new store.
They opened Hovland Healthcare Products LLC, 901 Center Ave., along with partner Josh Loge in February. The store will have an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, April 13.
Hovland, an occupational therapist by trade, noticed clients often had a tough question at the end of his assessments: "Who do I call now?"
After realizing many people don't have a family member to do these home modifications or had a hard time getting a busy handyman to take on a small project like this, Hovland began to install products himself.
He opened Hovland Healthcare Products two years ago in Pelican Rapids, and that store will remain open by appointment. But with the addition of two partners, Hovland relocated his business to Moorhead to help residents here.
"I think a lot of times people end up in a skilled nursing facility because a medical condition is needing to be managed, but a lot of times it's because of their mobility restrictions," he said.
It's a compelling issue as people live longer, said Tammy Lopez, community liaison for Fargo-based Ethos Home Care. While some people prefer to live in a congregate-type facility so they're not alone, many want to stay home.
And it's not just a matter of individual preference, Lopez said, because four people can stay home with maximum skilled services for the same cost as one person in long-term care.
Several businesses in the community, such as Fargo's Home Instead Senior Care, help people stay home.
Client Service Coordinator Sheena Sando said assistance often includes meal preparation, grocery shopping, laundry and light housekeeping, medication reminders and taking people to appointments.
Financial considerations are an unavoidable part of the work, too. Home Instead charges about $25 an hour for its services, which could add up to $150 a week for an average client compared to $3,000 or more per month to live in a nursing home.
The company can also help create an in-between living arrangement, such as assisting patients in the early stages of dementia so they can stay home until they require long-term care. Sando said these services also help adult children focus on quality time with their parents because they can let someone else make a trip to the grocery store or pharmacy.
"The daughters or the sons are usually running wild and going here and everywhere, but they're missing out on that relationship they they once had," she said.
The formation of Ethos Home Care in 2014 is one local sign of the rising need for these services.
Lopez said the business, a partnership between Fargo's Bethany Retirement Living, Moorhead's Eventide Senior Living Communities and Knute Nelson in Alexandria, Minn., provides help within 35 miles of Fargo-Moorhead.
That includes sending specialists to assist residents at long-term care facilities, but it also can be nursing care, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy in the home.
Ethos' services are often provided on a temporary basis, such as helping a person with Parkinson's disease get stronger through rehab so they walk better at home, so clients can stay where they're most comfortable.
"We just really feel strongly that for the final chapter of people's lives, we really, really want them to be where they want to be," Lopez said.
She thinks the demand for home care will continue to increase, especially as Medicare guidelines change to track hospital or nursing home readmissions that could be prevented.
But workers in the industry say they're focused on meeting patient needs, not just the financial costs of helping people.
Hovland said something as simple as installing grab bars and a shower bench so someone can take showers again might be enough to stop the "snowball effect" of declining health that can happen with physical limitations or injuries.
"By just adapting their activities and environment, you can really help them and maintain that independence that we all want," he said.
What: Hovland Healthcare Products
Where: 901 Center Ave., Moorhead
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday
Phone: (218) 443-5896