10 Tips for Family Caregivers: Making Personal Care Easier


10 Tips for Family Caregivers: Making Personal Care Easier

bath-towel-orange-md(Editor's Note: We continue sharing 10 tips for family caregivers each day. Today, Nancy D’Auria, director of ElderServe Home Care, a division of the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, shares tips to help with personal care.)

Caregiving can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be tiring, stressful and even overwhelming at times. Caregiver stress is common, and you are not alone. Here are some tips and strategies for making personal care easier for both you and your caree.

1. Timing: Timing is everything!! Think about what time of day your caree is most calm and agreeable. This may be the best time for showering or bathing.

2. Focus: Try to limit or reduce distractions, things like TV or other people being around and talking. This allows your caree to focus on the task at hand, such as bathing, dressing, etc.

3. Choices: When dressing, avoid overwhelming your caree with too many choices. For example, offer two choices of outfits. “Which shirt would you like to wear, the red one or the blue one?” Try to have clothing choices that coordinate so the tops and bottom of outfits can be mixed and matched.

4. Involvement: As much as possible have your caree participate in daily tasks BUT only to the extent that they can be successful. This may need to be re-evaluated periodically as their abilities change. So examples would be, having them hold the washcloth and wash their arm. They can participate by holding the bottle of body wash for you or dressing themselves if the clothes are laid out. To help with dressing, arrange clothes in the order they are to be put on.

5. Routines: Try to establish a routine for bathing and dressing. This will take some of the confusion out of the mix. Same time of day, same order of tasks, same robe.

6. Communicate: Let your caree know what you are going to do each step of the way, even if the steps are the same as the last time this task was done. Use simple instructions, avoiding multi-step instructions. Make eye contact and use your caree’s name when giving instructions.

7. Simplify: Stay away from complex tasks. This is important with dressing. Look for clothes that are easy to put on and adjust. Raglan sleeves, for example, are easier than set in sleeves when dressing. Look at cardigans or front closing shirts instead of over-the-head sweaters or tops. Pants with elastic waists, Velcro closures, slip on shoes, locking laces also allow for easier dressing.

8. Re-evaluate: On a regular basis, look for changes in behaviors that may indicate it is time to change the routine or the task order.

9. Personal privacy: When helping to undress someone, cover or wrap a towel around them as you go. This is for warmth as well as for personal privacy. Provide a robe for after bath or shower.

10. Flexibility: A shower is not always needed. If it is a battle on a given day, RETREAT! Wash up instead. Using wet wipes for toileting will keep your caree’s private areas cleaner all the time.

Most of all, remember to take a breather once in a while and give yourself a break. Be kind to yourself; you are doing your very best.

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