(picture from the FCA website) I was thinking about my in-law's (both 91) and their situation as they help my father-in-law get back on his feet after some hospital and rehab stays. As they get visits from the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) and their physical and occupational therapists ( PT and OT) to work with them, it reminded me of what the VNA did for mom and showed me how to help her with different aspects of daily life. I came across some tips on the Family Caregiver Alliance website that bears sharing. It has some great ideas on how to handle your elderly parent or whoever you are taking care of. I will copy it directly here because I do not want to miss anything.
**Approach from the front and retain eye contact. When assisting someone physically, do not approach him/her from behind or from the side. This can startle and confuse the person in your care, leading to increased levels of agitation and/or paranoia. Instead, approach from the front. Touch the care recipient on the shoulder, upper arm or hand, and tell them what’s going on. Use a calm voice to walk him/her through the whole process. For example, “Okay, let’s stand up. Good. Next, we are going to… .” Retain eye contact throughout the duration of the activity.
**Elicit your loved one’s help. Even when frail, your loved one might be able to shift his/her weight or move his/her arms or legs to make physically assisting them easier. Some examples are: “We’re getting ready to stand now, mom, so lean forward as far as you can,” or, “Can you move your leg, honey, so I can change the sheet?” A little help from them means a lot less work for you.
**Allow the person to finish what they’re doing. If, as a caregiver, you are running late, the tendency is to hurry your loved one, too. However, this rushed atmosphere is very difficult for care recipients, especially those who suffer from memory loss or brain impairment. Though you may try to sound calm and encouraging, it’s easy for loved ones to pick up our “anxious vibes.” So, even if running late, allow some time to finish the current activity before moving onto the next. For example, “Mom, after you finish that last bite of cereal, we’re going to get you dressed and ready to see your friends.”
**Utilize the major bone and muscle groups. When physically assisting a loved one, pulling or supporting them by their hands or arms is not only difficult, but may lead to injury for you and them. Instead, utilize the major muscle/bone groups.
**For example, when taking someone for a walk, stand directly behind and to the left of him or her. Place your left hand on their left shoulder, and your right hand on their right shoulder. In this way you are walking with your loved one in a comforting hug rather than pulling or pushing them. And when turning someone in a bed, utilize the large bones in the hip and shoulder, and the large muscles in the legs. Pull them toward you with your right hand over their hip or at the knee, and your left hand at their shoulder. Finally, when pulling someone to a standing position, it’s best to use a transfer belt (one can be purchased at any medical supply store for around twenty dollars).
**Once they are sitting at the edge of the bed or chair, pull up on the transfer belt, “hugging” your loved one close, again, utilizing their large muscle groups in the shoulders and the back. Remember to keep your back straight and to always change position by moving your feet, rather than twisting at the waist. And before going home from your next doctor’s appointment, ask for a referral to an occupational therapist who can help you develop your transferring skills.
**Allow for Their Reality. Remember to accept your loved one’s reality, even when assisting with a physical task. If, for example, your spouse becomes shy because he/she thinks that you are a sibling and doesn’t want to get undressed in front of you, don’t force the situation. Try leaving the room and coming back in a couple of minutes. Perhaps on a second or third attempt your spouse will recognize you and be amenable to your care. If all else fails, consider the situation. Is it an emergency? Changing a loved one’s soiled garments cannot be delayed. However, if a care recipient is being difficult and doesn’t want to take a bath or wash his/her hair on a particular day, that’s okay. Plan on doing it at a later time that day or the next day, when your loved one may accept your help.
**Finally, don’t try to physically assist with caregiving unless you can. Injuring yourself will not help the situation, and will often make your caregiving responsibilities that much more difficult. If you find yourself in a nonemergency situation where you are unable to physically assist your loved one (for example, after he/she slides from their chair to the floor) call your local fire department and request a “fireman’s assist.” They will come to your house and help you. If it is an emergency situation (where either you or your loved one are injured), contact the paramedics by calling 911.
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4 Signs of Caregiving Stress Overload
ElderCarelink email posts 4 signs that should not be overlooked by you, the caregiver, or a close family member or friend. They report that even though the immediate caregiver may not be helping in direct care, the mind is never far from the needs of the older person, thinking about meals, falling, medications. Take the opinion of a family member or friend if they are telling you that you are stressed. Four signs: you skip your own physicals; you isolate yourself from others; you eat and/or drink too much for good health; you are short tempered with the elder, your spouse or your children. If any or all of these sound familiar, take a break no matter how short in order to recharge. For more information on caregiver stress see ElderCarelink
You can check out my ranting and stream of consciousness writing about looking at adult service providers with Will.
A Caregiver's Poem
I was looking through a 'Caregiver's Blog: Senior Care Support' and came across a poem that was shared by a writer, Dana, from the blog. The poem was written by Becky Netherland and Dana's grandmother shared it with her. I thought it was great and there is not much to say about it - just read!!! Enjoy!!
(picture from Caregivers Blog)
I’ve traveled paths you’ve yet to walk
Learned lessons old and new
And now this wisdom of my life
I’m blessed to share with you
Let kindness spread like sunshine
Embrace those who are sad
Respect their dignity, give them joy
And leave them feeling glad
Forgive those who might hurt you
And though you have your pride
Listen closely to their viewpoint
Try to see the other side
Walk softly when you’re angry
Try not to take offense
Invoke your sense of humor
Laughter’s power is immense!
Express what you are feeling
Your beliefs you should uphold
Don’t shy away from what is right
Be courageous and be bold
Keep hope right in your pocket
It will guide you day by day
Take it out when it is needed
When it’s near, you’ll find a way
Remember friends and family
Of which you are a precious part
Love deeply and love truly
Give freely from your heart
The world is far from perfect
There’s conflict and there’s strife
But you still can make a difference
By how you live your life
And so I’m very blessed to know
The wonders you will do
Because you are my granddaughter
And I believe in you.
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