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Philips teams with designer to support family caregivers

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ATLANTA (Business Wire) -- According to the National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA), more than 50 million people provide care for a family member or friend during any given year and the majority of that care is provided in the home.

As part of National Family Caregivers Month, Philips Electronics (NYSE: PHG) and home and style designer Stephen Saint-Onge have joined with NFCA to help consumers create an inviting caregiver suite that highlights the role of technology.

The Philips "Designing at Home" team is combining the style expertise of Saint-Onge as well as information from NFCA to simplify design and technology resources to help today's caregivers adjust to the emotional, financial and decor changes inherent with taking care of loved ones at home.

"This particular project is timely and important because it addresses the needs of everyday consumers who may be seeking information and resources about how to create a functional and comfortable living space that integrates needed health care technology solutions into home decor," said Saint-Onge, who has been a featured guest on CNN, "The View" and "The Jane Pauley Show," and is a contributing editor for TimeInc.'s Cottage Living magazine. "The caregiver suite makeover will allow people to see how they, too, can transform their current rooms into a practical oasis of comfort for their loved ones with design tips that are easy to implement."

Research suggests that the average person spends approximately eight years caring for an ill or disabled loved one. Family caregivers also provide approximately 80 percent of homecare services in the United States, valued at more than $257 billion annually.

Suzanne Mintz, co-founder and president of NFCA, understands the impact of these statistics firsthand. Her husband, Steven, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1974, and she has provided in-home care for him throughout the course of his debilitating condition.

"Collaborating with Philips for this campaign during National Family Caregivers Month enhances our organization's ability to promote awareness and recognition of the services caregivers provide all year round," said Mintz, who is also the author of "Love, Honor & Value," which recounts her personal story and provides family caregivers with information to help them confront the choices and challenges of caregiving.

"Because almost anyone could become a family caregiver -- or require caregiving services -- at some point in their lives, we strongly support initiatives that make it easier for families to cope with the stress and learn how to better provide care for a loved one in the home."

Tips for creating a barrier-free caregiver suite

Below are a few helpful tips for consumers who provide in-home caregiving services for a loved one. From health care equipment to lighting and accessories, this information is for families who want to create a comfortable and barrier-free caregiver suite that effectively meets the needs of the entire family.

* Personal touches: If a loved one is coming to live with you, nothing can make him or her feel more at home than adding a personal touch to the space. Creating a decorative "memory wall" within the caregiver suite will allow your family member to have a unique place to reminisce about many of the special memories and moments from his or her lifetime. It also provides a sanctuary for many personal belongings like select heirloom pieces, artwork and portraits.

* Lighting: Proper lighting can help make the caregiver suite inviting, as well as provide the necessary lighting for family members to read, knit or enjoy watching television. Nightlights can be especially important to an older person who is in a new place. Adequate illumination in the bedroom and the bathroom can help prevent slips and falls in the caregiver suite and ultimately help foster your loved one's continued independence.

* Paint: Paint color plays a major role in creating a warm, inviting space. For example, cool colors such as blues and greens promote relaxation while warm colors like yellow stimulate activity.

* Doorways: Wider doorways and hallways can better accommodate assisted walking if needed, making it easier for loved ones to transition in and out of rooms as easily as possible. Additionally, lever handle doorknobs make it easier for loved ones to open and close doors themselves - especially those who suffer from arthritis.

* Accessibility: From shower seats to railings, companies provide a variety of daily living aids that help caregivers provide resources to their family members that allow them more mobility and freedom. For example, railings can increase your loved one's feeling of independence, safety and privacy in the bathroom.

* Safety: One of the latest advancements in home safety equipment is the home defibrillator. It is designed so that virtually anyone can help save the life of a person who suffers the most common cause of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). Nearly 80 percent of all SCAs occur at home. For the majority of victims, SCA strikes without warning, as they have no previously recognized symptoms of heart disease.

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