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Oxygen at Home

Elderly patients who require constant supplemental oxygen can still be active and find mobility at home by using a home oxygen unit. There are three types of home oxygen units:

Concentrators

Oxygen concentrators extract oxygen from room air's 21% oxygen content. The resulting oxygen concentration is delivered with a long tube and nasal cannula that gives freedom of movement throughout most of the apartment or small home. The concentrator unit looks a lot like a small dehumidifier. Since it consumes a significant amount of electricity if used all the time, look for a model that runs quiety and is as energy efficient as possible. The advantage to concentrators is that there is no need to refill this kind of unit since it continually uses room air as its main supply. The disadvantage is that it requires electricity, so explore battery back-up options and also notify your power company so that they are aware in the event of an outage or billing dispute.

Liquid Oxygen Vessels

When oxygen is compressed and liquified, it compacts into a volume 860 times smaller than normal. Thus, a liquified oxygen vessel can provide quite a bit of oxygen as it returns it to gaseous form. Smaller, shoulder-strap vessels are a convenient way to take along oxygen as you leave the house. These vessels have few moving parts and don't need electricity, but they do need to be refilled approximately every two weeks.

High pressure systems

These holdouts from the old days still provide a good supply of oxygen, but are not very convenient. The large high pressure cylinder has to be replenished twice a week, and users have to learn how to put oxygen regulators on the small bottles which are carried around.

Picking the Best Home Oxygen Strategy

Consult your doctor to understand how much oxygen you need and which style of unit delivers the right amount at the lowest cost. Most people choose both a base unit (concentrator

or liquid oxygen vessel) with a long delivery hose of at least 20 feet and a portable liquid oxygen system that can be supported by a shoulder strap for when you go outside. If you would prefer to carry the portable unit around the house and avoid the long cannula, consider getting a liquid oxygen main vessel so that you can refill the portable yourself.

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