In 2004, some 3.3 million people over the age of 40 were living with blindness or low vision. Low vision meaning their reduced sight affected their daily activities. And by 2030, it’s predicted that this number will double as the rapidly aging population deals with diabetes and other chronic disease diagnosis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Home can become a common place for mishaps for the visually impaired. While it’s easy to think that our home provides the safest space for comfort and security, it’s also a place where it’s easy to let one’s guard down. This can lead to accidentslike falls and poisonings.
If you or your loved one is dealing with changes in vision, take these steps to make your home safer.
Remove Common Obstacles
When walking away from a chair be sure to push it so that it is underneath the table. Although, you may not have thought about the position of your chair in the past, pushing your chair in keeps your walking lane clear. Small modifications in your behaviors may protect you or your loved one from a fall or other injuries. The following are additional tips you might consider for a safe environment:
· Make sure hallways and common areas are clutter free.
· Keep cabinet doors and drawers closed.
· Return things to the same place, like remote controls, keys, and glasses.
· Consider organizing yourself with braille labels as well as raised dot markings. You might reach out to an organization like the American Foundation for the Blindfor assistance if you find you need braille or other assistive devices.
· Practice leaving doors either open or closed to avoid mishaps.
· Remove breakables from precarious spots.
· Have a fire escape route pre-planned. You may choose to visitthe American Red Cross for tips and tools to help you develop a fire safety plan for you and your loved one or client.
Eliminate Common Hazards
Examine your home for things and situations that could prove to be hazardous. Here are some common examples:
· Old flooring that is buckling, lifting, or gathering. For example, wood flooring that has uneven seams or old carpeting that is wrinkled and gathered from too much wear.
· Remove area rugs which are a common tripping hazard.
· Keep cosmetic and personal care products like bath gel, shampoo and body lotion, as well as cleaning products like bleach and toilet cleaners clearly marked or locked away to avoid accidental ingestion.
There are several steps you can take to make moving around your home easier. You may consider using the following suggestions to improve accessibility:
● Use a directional lamp that you can adjust to perform tasks like cutting in the kitchen.
● Where possible, use fluorescent lighting that doesn’t cast shadows.
● Use highly concentrated incandescent lighting for all close-up activities, like reading, knitting, or doing puzzles.
● Add night lights in the bedroom, bathroom, hallway, and kitchen to help navigate in the dark.
● Add lighting to hallways and stairways.
If you’re cutting a piece of steak on a cutting board, you’ll see it better if it’s on a light-colored board. Contrastthroughout the home will improve your overall safety. Please consider the following:
● Place a dark object against a light wall. For example, a dark wood grain dining table against a light-colored wall will make it easier to see.
● Door frames should be painted a contrasting color to wall paint to make them stand out.
● Use colorful, textured tape to mark step.
● Purchase pots and pans with white interiors.
● Use a white plate on a dark placement.
● Use towels, washcloths and bath mats that contrast with the tub or shower.
Make sure to go room by room with the help of a loved one to identify any other areas that might be a danger to you. Also, take time to fill out the Home Evaluation questionnaireprovided by VisionAware. This brief survey will guide you to other items that you shouldn’t overlook. Your home should be a place where you can enjoy comfort and relaxation and feel safe. By following these steps and making some home necessary modifications, you’ll be doing just that.
About Harry Cline- Guest Author on Caregiver Support Service’s Blog
Harry Cline is creator of NewCaregiver.organd author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.
Last winter I slipped and fell in my driveway. It was early in the morning, so I didn’t notice that the driveway was covered in black ice. After I fell it was really challenging to get around, so I had to use crutches to maneuver for the next two weeks. I admit, the worst part of having limited mobility was trying to perform activities of daily living (i.e. bathing, dressing, and grooming) with only one functional leg. Falling was painful and trying to compensate as a result of my immobility was stressful.
For a loved one or client with limited mobility, recovering from a fall may require extended recovery periods including a possible hospital stay. And if the damage is extensive, there may be a need to seek out skilled nursing services. Not only is there greater mortality risks associated with a fall and subsequent skeletal injury but, sometimes an elderly or disabled client is not able to return home after a fall. The adjustment is often difficult, but great strides in health care have been made in terms of services that offer immediate help for those suffering from a serious fall-related injury.
The risks associated with just one significant fall can be devastating for both your loved one and you as a caregiver. Therefore, you must be empowered to recognize the signs of an unreported fall, understand where to go for resources to help with making the home safer, and seek the assistance of additional support in the home, when it is warranted, to prevent falls.
Caregiver Wellness: U Model
Empowerment is a key component of the Caregiver Wellness: U Model, a conceptual model that incorporates the movement toward social, psychological, physical, intellectual, spiritual, occupational, and financial wellness among caregivers, while also incorporating the empowerment and resilience necessary to take charge of one’s health on a holistic basis.
The term empowerment is defined as the ability to engage in and execute behaviors for successful caregiving. It is a significant force that may help you with the tasks associated with caring for your elderly or disabled loved one or client. In fact, once you are empowered, you are better able to assist your loved one live life with greater fulfillment, you are more likely to take responsibility for your own health and wellness in addition to the well-being of your loved one, and you are more likely to reach out for support to prevent a fall.
6 strategies that empowered caregivers can use to prevent falls
The following are six strategies that you may find helpful to prevent your loved one from falling.
Schedule a home evaluation. When a client of loved one is discharged from the hospital, you can ask the discharge planners, social workers, and therapists to do a home evaluation prior to release. During a home evaluation, a therapist verifies the safety of the home environment. He or she can also make suggestions for assistive equipment (tub chairs, handheld showers) and can advise against environmental risks. Another plus to having an evaluation is that the professional will know the red flags for which to look. Professionals are there to make suggestions; therefore, you are not bound by any agreement to make the changes the professional may recommend, so if your loved one becomes resistant to certain modifications, you still have the autonomy to make decisions regarding your loved one’s environment. It is always possible to create a plan with your loved one for gradual changes to his or her environment to decrease anxiety or resistance to the changes suggested. If you do not have access to a professional to conduct a home evaluation you might download and use Right at Home’s Fall Prevention Guide. This step-by-step guide walks you through tips to improve the safety in your loved one’s living environment.
Strategies that empowered caregivers can use to prevent falls - YouTube
Be Empowered! As a caregiver you play a key role in helping a loved one improve or retain functional mobility. You can encourage a loved one to fully utilize his or her assistive devices, and you can also help with setting goals to increase mobility. Additionally, you can serve as a liaison with doctors to determine appropriate activity levels and can act as a coach by encouraging a loved one to maintain his or her level of independence. Finally, you can watch for signs that your loved one has had a fall. For example, does your client or loved one have unexplained bruises, does he or she seem stiff, or reluctant to participate in normal daily activities If the answer is yes, you might consider sharing this information with your loved one or client’s doctor.
Make sure the environment is safe. Are doorways, hallways, and common areas clear of clutter? Your loved one or client should have a clear pathway to areas like the bathroom, bedroom, and common areas. If deemed necessary, grab bars should be secured in the bathroom. It is also important to make sure that telephone wires and extension cords are kept out of the path of your loved one or client.
Encourage your loved one to participate in normal activities. Immobility often occurs in conjunction with physical and medical conditions. Joint injuries, obesity, osteoarthritis, joint deformities, weakness, and restricted joint motion are also largely responsible for decreased mobility. Research has shown that many age-related declines in musculoskeletal function can be reduced by participation in some form of regular exercise. Additionally, maintenance of physical ability has proven to be achieved with relatively low volumes of exercise. Exercise may take the form of normal daily activities such as washing clothes or dishes or house cleaning. These regular activities, termed normalizing activities, have been found to help with maintaining functional abilities. The National Council on Agingoffers a variety of resources, tips, and tools that you may find helpful to identify meaningful and appropriate activities for your loved one or client.
Participate in an emergency response program. If your loved one is living alone, you may have concerns about him or her falling and getting injured you mightconsider placing an emergency response system in the home. Emergency response systems can be a source of comfort for both you and your loved one. In fact, they offer the convenience of calling for help without having to make it to the phone in the event your loved one has a fall. Your loved one will wear a device like a necklace and wristband. The device contains a button that, once pushed, prompts a live response over the intercom that is part of the personal emergency response system. Many systems now have the range to allow you to hear your loved one throughout the home and even outside the home up to a certain number of feet.
Falling can be devastating for you and your loved one or client. It is important that you are empowered to recognize the signs of an unsafe environment and take the steps to improve safety to prevent falls whenever possible.
In the early eighties after having suffered a heart attack my grandmother wrote a letter. The letter outlined her wishes should she not make it through open heart surgery alive. She survived but kept the letter, and updated it with her signature every year, for more than twenty years. Her letter was an inexpensive, yet a heartfelt way to shape her legacy because her wishes were documented. She was profoundly spiritual; she believed in living for today and always making the best of what she had. She never wanted a large funeral, she wanted to be cremated, and she didn’t want sadness and crying; rather, she wanted us to celebrate her life. Some family members couldn’t understand why we had made some of the decisions, but we found solace in the fact that my grandmother’s wishes were honored, and who could argue with that?
Grandma's Letter: A Gift - YouTube
Preplanning is a gift
Your end of life, and that of your loved one is divinely distinct. In fact, mortality is something each person will face in their lifetime and because you and your loved one will likely have varied but specific cultural, spiritual, and religious beliefs it is important that you document your wishes and the wishes of your loved one. The problem is that you may not feel comfortable talking about end of life care preferences, which means that you will likely miss the opportunity to shape your legacy. The choices you and your loved one make through preplanning can be helpful as you make complex medical decisions, and later as you cope, knowing that you have honored your loved one’s care preferences and end-of-life choices after he or she is gone.
Four Resources for Preplanning
The following are four valuable that you and your loved one may use for preplanning:
Take the End-of-LifeCare Quiz. Most people nearing the end-of-life are not physically, mentally, or cognitively able to make their own decisions about treatment. As a result, advance care planning is essential to ensure that people receive care that reflects their values, goals, and informed preferences. Take this quiz to measure your current knowledge.
Access the Five Wishes document. I remember a conversation with a very loving and devoted son, who cared for his mother while she was on hospice. When we met, it was many years after her passing, but the grief he experienced continued to be crushing. As we talked, he brought up concerns about doing the right thing in her last days. Had he given her too much pain medication? Did the interactions they shared offer enough support and comfort? After so many years had passed, and after such warm and loving support was provided, he was still questioning. This is where preplanning can be a real asset, so we do not have to focus on what should have been or what could have been. The Five Wishes can be used in any part of the world as a helpful guide and documentation of you and your loved one’s wishes. Completing Five Wishes is a gift to your family, friends and your doctor because it keeps them out of the difficult position of having to guess what kind of treatment you want or don’t want.
Listen to the recorded webinar titled Healthcare Advocacy: Fundamentals of Ethical Caregiving. A struggle in maintaining the integrity of healthcare lies in knowing how to apply ethical principles in stressful professional and family caregiver roles. This web seminar provides the framework for developing a holistic ethical caregiver strategy based on: applying a practical approach to ethics in healthcare; knowing the difference between types of neglect; making sure there are abuse-prevention services in one's area; and learning the ethical roles of elder law attorneys in consulting aging clients and their families on end-of-life issues.
Download the RightConversationstm Bridging the Communications GapGuide.Although it is up to you and your loved one to determine the right time to begin conversing about tips for effective communication when having a difficult conversation about the need for assistance with the activities of daily living. The guide also includes a valuable, step-by-step example of how to broach difficult topics while keeping the needs of your loved one in the forefront. Although you cannot be prepared for everything, it is important that you take steps to ensure that you and your loved one have a solid plan in place for your future.
I cannot say that everyone will believe as my grandmother did, nor do I believe everyone should. However, if you don’t plan, you leave it up to others to determine your destiny. When you are already stressed from grief and loss, the last thing you want to have to do is take a stand on end-of-life choices that could have already been settled. Preplanning frees the heart so that you can focus on healing. At the end of my grandmother’s service, with the saxophone playing, we released doves, which flew into the heavens. I believe, our hearts were freed that day.
Imagine that you are sailing in open water on your way to a beautiful island. You have been traveling for a long time, but you finally catch a glimpse of the island off in the distance and feel a sense of relief that you are so close to reaching your destination. You take this opportunity to bask in the sun as it shines brightly, and you listen to the music of the waves as they ripple against the sides of your boat. Just when you feel totally relaxed, a substantial wave pummels you, forcing you to grip the boat tightly until the swell passes. The surging water leaves you shaken, so you take a moment and collect yourself as you acknowledge that the smoothness of a boat ride in open water often depends on elements that are not within your control.
As you begin to recover from the wave force, a riptide crashes in and thrusts you from the safety of your boat. You take a deep breath, known as a survival breath, and sink underwater until the riptide passes and you can bob to the surface. As you break through the water’s surface, you release the air you were holding in your lungs. After several moments, you catch your breath and find that you are breathing normally again. You spot the distant island and it is much closer than you previously thought. It is evident that you are going to make it to land! You swim the short distance to the island and nearly collapse in sheer relief.
Riptides of Sadness
The sadness associated with grief can be analogous to being hurled out of the safety of a boat by a riptide. A riptide, or a current opposing another current, may also equate to the turmoil and inner conflict you feel when you lose a loved one for whom you have cared. Just as you might feel helpless against the elemental sea when being heaved from a boat, you will likely be emotionally fragile when your loved one dies. In fact, you may feel that you will be swept away by your grief. As in the boat analogy, you may feel as though you are underwater, gasping to catch your breath, and with so many competing emotions; from time to time, you may even feel as though you are going to go crazy. I would bet that you will not.
3 Healthy Ways to Express Your Sadness
Because you will be changed by your loss, it is important to identify strategies that may be useful in expressing your sadness. The goal of each of the approaches is to help you begin to integrate your past and present feelings about your loved one so that you are able to invest your emotions into living.
Poetry. Writing poetry was one of the ways I coped when my aunt Linda passed away. I would find myself awake in the middle of the night without anyone with whom I could express my sadness, and so I would write. The key to successful poetry writing as an outlet to expressing your sadness is that it does not have to be nicely written, spelled correctly, or even flow succinctly. What matters is that you fully express yourself and have an opportunity to capture how you are feeling in the moment. Many of the poems I wrote after my aunt passed away have never been shared with anyone. In fact, the journal is tucked away and serves as a private tribute to our special relationship. It is up to you what you do with your written words long term. For now, the goal is to release your feelings in a healthy manner.
Life Imprint. Cynthia was my favorite aunt; she had a magnetic personality and loved to laugh. When she passed away after a long struggle with a bipolar disorder, I wasn’t sure how I would cope with the sadness. Yet, having time to reflect helped me recognize that we continue to have a relationship, because, through her humor, she left a strong life imprint. Remembering her makes me smile. I try to be mindful that I have not lost the years caring for her. Rather, I try to incorporate new patterns of living that include the transformed but
abiding relationship that still exists. I have concluded that I am a living memorial of my aunt.
Supportive Practices for Grieving Caregivers - YouTube
Register for the upcoming webinar,Supporting Grieving Caregiverswith Dr. Eboni Green, Co-Founder of Caregiver Support Services. The webinar is sponsored by Right at Home and hosted by, the American Society on Aging and is scheduled for May 24thfrom 12-1pm CST. The webinar will focus on the intense grief both family caregivers and care professionals experience when struggling with the acceptance of someone near and dear passing. Registration is free however, space is limited. Please register today!
As mentioned previously, I do not believe that one is likely to ever get over the death of a loved one. What I do believe is that we learn to incorporate the best attributes of our departed loved ones into our daily lives. We remember what we loved best about them and that our lives are forever changed from knowing those who are now gone.
A few years ago, my father-in-law experienced a major medical crisis and as a result he was hospitalized. He was in intensive care for a time but eventually gained enough strength so that he was able to return home. I remember being called over to his home after he was discharged from the hospital so that I could help him settle in and organize his medications for his full-time caregiver. I sat down with the long list of medications and focused on the task of setting up his pill cassette. There were more than twenty medications, each needing to be administered at varied times throughout the day. Setting up his medications was an overwhelming experience even with my nursing background and comfort with all things medical. I cannot imagine how a family caregiver without professional medical training might fare in a similar situation.
Medication management is a task frequently undertaken by family caregivers. In fact, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP study Caregiving in the US 2015 more than 6 in 10 caregivers assist a love one with managing their medications. However, most caregivers do not feel that they are properly prepared to safely manage the medications a loved one is taking. This lack of understanding is a major source of dis-stress as having inadequate knowledge about the actions and possible side effects of medications and the symptoms associated of possible drug interactions can directly impact a loved one’s quality of life.
As a caregiver, you must often act as the gatekeeper for the medications of a loved one. Although, you may not be a medical expert, it is important to take note of medications prescribed to a loved one. The following are five tips that you may find helpful as you assist your loved one manage his or her medications.
Schedule a pharmacy consult. As acaregiver it is important that you rely on trusted partners to help manage the challenges your loved one may have with medications. Whether you need assistance with understanding new medications and possible side effects, need help with setting up refills for all prescriptions on the same day each month, setting up delivery, or assisting with reminders for your loved one to take their medications scheduling a pharmacy consult can be of great benefit. During a pharmacy consult the pharmacist can go over each medication and help you understand the actions and possible side effects of each medication. The pharmacist can also assist with contacting the doctor so that they can work together to discontinue ineffective medications and also help you to streamline your loved one’s prescriptions so that they are all dispensed at one pharmacy. Consults can be performed via phone or in person. It is best to contact the pharmacist directly to set up a consult for your loved one.
Schedule a wellness visit with your loved one’s pharmacist. A Wellness Prescription visit is similar to an annual physical. During a wellness visit the pharmacist will perform a medication reconciliation and review to make sure that your loved one is adhering to his or her drug regimen and experiencing positive results. The visit also includes a cost saving analysis, an insurance formulary check, prior authorization assistance with your insurance company and Pharmacogenetic counseling. As you can see it makes sense to schedule a ‘checkup’ for the medications your loved one takes at least once a year. More than one visit may be necessary if you feel your loved one is not getting the desired results or is suffering from side effects from his or her drug regimen.
Seek out pharmacogenetics testing. The average adult over the age of 65 takes seven or more prescription medications. And while most medications are perfectly safe, from time to time you or your loved one may take a medication or a combination of medications that don’t suit your body. As a result, you may end up experiencing an adverse reaction. Pharmacogenomics is the science behind how your genetic makeup impacts the way you metabolize a particular drug. The PGx test will show what drugs work best for your loved one but more importantly, what drugs will not work and should be avoided. This test is ordered by your loved one’s primary physician and will assist in the right drug being prescribed at the right dose for your loved one from the beginning decreasing the chances he or she will experience an adverse drug reaction.
Maintain a list of prescribed and over-the-counter medications. As a caregiver you are often acting as the gatekeeper for the medications of a loved one. Keeping a running tab on medications will aid in maintaining continuity. One tip that may assist in keeping track of medications is to list the medications. It may also be useful to take that list along each time your loved one has a doctor’s appointment. The key is to keep track of all medications a loved one takes, in addition to keeping the doctor and pharmacist informed.
Register for the upcoming webinar, Pharmacists as Caregivers, with Ken Sternfeld, Pharmacist and Founder of RXVIP Concierge. This live webinar is scheduled for March 22ndfrom 1-2pm CST. The discussion will focus on how you can proactively partner with the pharmacist and best advocate for your loved one with regard to the medications he or she is currently taking. Registration is free however, space is limited. Please register today!
Medication management can be one of the more complex, yet impactful aspects of caring for a loved one. Pharmacists have long been considered a trusted health care resource. Reaching out to a pharmacist or your loved one’s primary physician is vitally important to successful medication management.
Do you have any best practices that you might share regarding proper management of prescription medications?
Three years ago my mother-in-law (“Mom”) was hospitalized after she contracted a terrible strain of influenza. At the height of her illness, she had a stroke that left her with limited mobility and a loss of functioning on her right side. After a year of rehabilitation, Mom was able to move in with Grandma, who became Mom’s primary caregiver. This arrangement has worked well for a time, with Mom and Grandma mutually benefiting from companionship and emotional support.
However, as of late, Mom and Grandma have become increasingly irritated and disagreeable, both in their moods and in their interactions with one another. A few weeks ago, their grumpiness reached a fever pitch, and my husband and I were forced to intervene. After a heartfelt conversation with the pair, it appears as though their primary source of distress stems from Mom’s dressing and bathing routine. In essence, Mom has become resistant to accepting Grandma’s assistance with bathing, and Grandma has grown weary of strategizing ways to overcome Mom’s resistance.
If you are a caregiver who assists your loved one or client with his or her activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing, dressing, and grooming, you are not alone. In fact, according to the study Caregiving in the US 2015, one in four caregivers assists a loved one with ADLs. Moreover, caregivers, like Grandma, who assist a loved one with ADLs are inclined to experience higher levels of physical and psychological distress than caregivers who do not perform these types of caregiving tasks.
Caregiver Wellness U Model
Physical and psychological wellness are a part of the Caregiver Wellness: U model, a conceptual model that incorporates the movement toward social, psychological, physical, intellectual, spiritual, occupational, and financial wellness, while also incorporating the empowerment and resilience necessary to take charge of your health on a holistic basis. The components are not chronological; rather, they represent collective components.
What does it mean to be psychologically well? Being psychologically well means that you have adequate coping skills to deal with the sometimes competing emotions associated with caring for your loved one or client.
What does it mean to be physically well? Physical wellness encompasses all the activities that keep you physically healthy as a caregiver. You are physically well if you exercise regularly, participate in physical activity without bodily pain, keep your blood pressure under control, abstain from smoking, eat a healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight, limit your alcohol consumption, and get adequate rest.
Tips for addressing the psychological aspects of bathing and personal care
The following are common challenges and suggested strategies to address your psychological wellness as you provide personal care for your loved one or client.
Identify the most significant source of your emotional distress. Is your greatest challenge associated with the guilt of being responsible for performing care?Thinking through Mom and Grandma’s situation brought me back to the time that I cared for my daughter. She was sixteen and suffering from a brain tumor. The medication she was taking made it unsafe for her to do anything alone for fear that she would fall. The bathroom was the least safe place for her to be alone so that it became necessary for me to continuously monitor her so that she could take a shower. It was such a distressing experience for us both. I remember my daughter saying, “Mom! I don’t want you to be in here with me.” With tears in my eyes, I replied, “I don’t want to be here, but it is not safe for you to be in here alone.” For my daughter, privacy was most important. However, her need for privacy was superseded by my need to keep her safe. You too may feel conflicted about not wanting to, but needing to, personally provide a bath or shower.
Suggested solution. My daughter’s need for supervised showering while temporary was necessary, and for a time we both had to put our emotional distress aside. We each expressed our frustration by discussing our mutual discomfort with her showers and came up with some strategies, such as pulling the curtain halfway closed so that she was somewhat shielded from my view. We also worked with the doctor by setting up a consult visit to have her medications adjusted. In the end, we found that her prescription was the source of her wobbliness. She ultimately had surgery to remove the tumor, and the medication was no longer needed. Talking to your loved one and sharing how you feel may open the door to improving your psychological well-being.
Is your loved one’s or client's resistance related to a greater need for autonomy? There is almost nothing as personal as a bath. Mom, who is in her sixties, and who now must coordinate her bath schedule with her mother, may in fact feel as though she has lost control over her life. Mom’sdistress may contribute her resistance with Grandma. In essence, Mom may be trying to exert some control in her life by refusing to cooperate with Grandma when she attempts to provide personal care.
Suggested solution. Dressing, bathing, and grooming independently are likely among the first tasks that you learned to do for yourself, and being able to perform those tasks served to fortify your independence. One of the most important things you can do is to encourage and empower your loved one or client to do the tasks he or she can perform without assistance. Your goal is for your loved one or client to reach his or her highest level of practical functioning; you must relinquish some control so that your loved one or client can experience a level of autonomy.
Tips for addressing the physical logistics of bathing and personal care
A lack of physical support and feeling a loss of a sense of control have the potential to influence your attitude about assisting your loved one or client with personal care. In essence, experiencing bodily pain when providing personal care can be a contributing factor to the distress you feel. The following are tips to ease the physical distress associated with assisting your loved one or client with his or her ADLs.
Make sure your loved one’s or client's bathing preferences are communicated and followed. It is important to garner your loved one’s or client's preferences for bathing, including determining if a bed bath, partial bath, shower, or tub bath is the preferred approach. You and your loved one or client may also work together to set a bathing schedule that is mutually agreeable.
Make sure your loved one is not in pain or experiencing anxiety. Your loved one or client may be resistant to bathing when he or she is scared or experiencing pain. This may end up putting more strain on you. It is important to make sure your loved one or client is anxiety free and that he or she is not currently in pain prior to bathing.
Sitting rather than standing. If bathing your loved one or client results in bodily pain,you might find sitting rather than standing beneficial during your loved one’s or client's bath or shower.
Enlist the support of an occupational therapist. You may find it helpful to set up an appointment with an occupational therapist, who can assist with environmental modifications or assistive devices so that your loved one or client has the ability to bathe with the least possible assistance.
Hire a professional bath aide. You may choose to delegate the bathing of your loved one to a bath aide. Bath aides are usually professionally trained and employed by a licensed home care company.
Assisting with ADLs is a very personal process. Most important is that you and your loved one or client continue to work together to avoid physical and psychological distress.
Have you ever heard the saying “cleanliness is next to godliness?” This popular saying highlights the importance of having measures in place to keep the environment where you care for your loved one or client clean. For example, routinely disinfecting the living space where your client or loved one receives care and washing your hands properly can prevent the spread of potential illness causing bacteria and viruses like the flu. Similar to general infections (i.e., eyes, ears, and nose) and sessional allergies the flu is short-term condition that is usually not life-threatening. In fact, with proper rest and treatment (usually an antibiotic or antiviral medication) your loved one or client will likely return to normal and resume everyday activities within a few weeks. However, it should be noted that common infections like the flu can exacerbate your loved one’s more serious chronic medical conditions and these complications can end up being life threatening. The following are best practices for effective handwashing, the application and safe removal of gloves, the use of hand sanitizer, and tips for disinfecting your client or loved one’s living space.
Washing your hands is the single, most important way to prevent spread of infection. The goal is to prevent the spread of germs, bacteria, or viruses.
When should you wash your hands?
It is recommended that you wash your hands:
Before and after eating; after going to the bathroom, after coughing, and/or blowing your nose.
Before and after providing care for your loved one or touching his or her belongings
After removing disposable gloves and after handling soiled blankets.
Tips for Effective Handwashing - YouTube
Tips for washing your hands
Turn on faucet.
Wet your hands including two inches above your wrist.
Apply soap. It best to use liquid soap.
Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. You might sing your ABC’s to ensure that you have washed them long enough.
Rinse off the soap thoroughly.
Pull down your paper towel and completely dry your hands.
Then pull down a final paper towel.
Turn off the faucet with the final paper towel.
You can use the paper towel to open the door and then dispose of it.
Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer handy
Hand sanitizer can also be useful in reducing the spread of bacteria and viruses. Especially when you do not have access to a sink where you can wash your hands. There are a variety of brands so it is important that you find one that works best for you. When using hand sanitizer it is important that you vigorously scrub hands together until product is absorbed and your hands/fingers are completely dry.
It is important to remember to wash your hands using the sink after three or four uses of hand sanitizer. You will notice that your hands become gritty from the buildup of the hand sanitizer after several uses.
Applying disposable gloves
There may be instances where you need to use disposable gloves, specifically when disinfecting your loved one’s personal space and when assisting with personal cares. While there is no set procedure to applying your gloves it is important to make sure the gloves you purchase are the correct size, so that they are not too tight or too loose. You will know that you have the correct size gloves when you have a seal at the wrist. Gloves that tear or easily slide off should be replaced immediately.
Tips for removing gloves:
Pinch the center of the glove on your non-dominant hand and with one movement remove the first glove. This is termed the pinch-pull method where you pinch and pull your glove off in one motion.
Ball up the glove in your remaining gloved hand.
Without touching the outside of the glove in your dominant hand, slide your two fingers underneath and pull off the second glove.
Throw both gloves in the trash.
Wash your hands.
Disinfecting your client or loved one’s living space
You have likely developed a routine for general housekeeping. It is not necessary to take additional precautions unless you will be coming into contact with soiled or dirty bed linens or other items that have body fluids on them (urine, stool, or droplets from coughing and sneezing). Under those circumstances it is important to wash your hands and apply gloves. You will also want to remove them properly and wash your hands after their removal.
Practicing good hand and environmental hygiene and implementing the aforementioned precautions are the key to reducing the chance that both you and your loved one or client from contracting preventable infections.
It is normal to experience the highs and lows of life as you care for someone you love. Yet, it is your reaction to the turbulent ups and downs that can increase your longevity as a caregiver. Creating memories and having the ability to return to those positive pictures can sustain you when you are having a challenging day.
Are there any significant memories that sustain you as you care for your loved one you that you might document and share? Please join the conversation on Facebook!
As a family or professional caregiver, you play an important role in maintaining the health and well-being of your elderly or disabled loved one or client. Yet, according to a study recently published by the National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP Public Policy Institute titled “Caregiving in the U.S. 2015,” fewer than half of family caregivers have made plans for the future care of their loved ones, and significantly fewer have made these plans for themselves. The lack of a plan for both you and your loved one can end up being problematic, specifically if there is a care transition, emergency, or crisis. Therefore it is incredibly important, when possible, to make an informed decision about your care and the care of your loved one rather than having an emergency situation dictate the decision for you. As you gather with family and friends during this holiday season you have the opportunity to take a proactive approach to plan for the future care needs of you loved one by having a conversation.
Intellectual wellness is a component of the Caregiver Wellness: U model, a conceptual model that incorporates the movement toward social, psychological, physical, intellectual, spiritual, occupational, and financial wellness, while also incorporating the empowerment and resilience necessary to take charge of your health on a holistic basis. The components are not chronological; rather, they represent collective components. According to the Caregiver Wellness: U model, you are intellectually well when you actively seek education, identify resources, and participate in planning activities that could improve the care provided for your loved one or client. Your intellectual wellness is enhanced when you apply what you learn to improve your health and wellness.
Evaluate Your Intellectual Wellness
Please take this opportunity to evaluate your intellectual wellness as it relates to planning for the care of your loved one and yourself. Following are five statements; consider each statement openly and honestly. Assign two points (2) if you agree with the statement, assign one point (1) if you somewhat agree, and do not assign any points (0) if you do not agree with the statement.
I have a plan in place for the care of myself and my loved one.
My family members are aware of my personal plan and the plan for the care of my loved one.
I know where to locate important documents for myself and my loved one.
If asked by a health care professional, I would know how to relay what is needed for my loved one.
I have adequate information and resources to make end-of-life decisions for my loved one and for myself.
Evaluate Your Score
A score of 7 or highermay indicate that you are intellectually well; it is likely that you have a plan in place for you and your loved one. Although, you may have a plan in place, it is important to keep it up- to- date and to make sure that it is shared with pertinent family members and your health care team.
A score between 4 and 6may indicate that you are doing OK. You might find the resources included in the next section helpful in developing, updating, and communicating a plan for the care of you and your loved one.
A score between 0 and 3may indicate that it may be time to sit down with your loved one and family to develop a long-term plan.
Five resources to assist you in having a productive care conversation
You may find the following resources helpful should you decide that it is time for you and your loved one to develop a plan for your care and the care of your loved one.
Watch the recorded RightConversations: Bridging the Family Communications Gapwebinar. This pre-recorded webinar was sponsored by Right at Home and presented in cooperation with the American Society on Aging, will help adult children learn effective tips when preparing for a difficult conversation with aging parents about their care needs. Helpful information covered in our webinar includes the 10 RightConversations tips; using effective communication styles when having the conversation; and the benefits of using the Information Journal, Communication Planner and Family Action Planner.
Download your free RightConversations guide. Although it is up to you and your loved one to determine the right time to begin conversing about preferences for care, you may find the RightConversations guide helpful. The guide also includes a valuable, step-by-step example of how to broach difficult topics while keeping the needs of your loved one in the forefront.
Register for the upcoming live webinar Know Your Medicare Rights: A Caregiver’s Guide. You will learnabout the benefits and rights available for a loved one with Medicare. During this presentation you will learn about important Medicare rights and free services provided by Beneficiary and Family Centered Care Quality Improvement Organizations, including filing quality of care complaints and discharge appeals, as well as requesting immediate advocacy to resolve health care concerns quickly.
Access the guides located on Caregiver Support Service’s Emma’s Picks page. Emma’s picks includes seven of the most comprehensive resource guides that you may find useful as you care and for your elderly or disabled loved one or client. Please feel free to access the suggested resources and share them with your family and friends. You are invited to revisit this page as new resources are added frequently.
Don’t forget to take care of you. Consider accessing the Ask Emma tool. Emma will help you determine your wellness as a caregiver. The Ask Emma tool will provide you with immediate feedback as to your level of wellness as well as provide suggested strategies and resources to help you achieve optimum wellness.
Although you cannot be prepared for everything, it is important that you take steps to ensure that you and your loved one have a solid plan in place.
The movie Beaches not only highlights the importance of caring for someone you love, but it also shines a light on the importance of emotional self-care. In fact, early in the movie a young CC Bloom (actress Mayim Bialik) uses emotional manipulation and dramatic outbursts to get what she wants from her mother Leonia (actress Laine Kazan). Later, as an adult CC’s (actress Bette Midler) emotional immaturity reaches a crescendo, when she finds that she is both alienated from her best friend and estranged from her husband. Seeking comfort CC flies from New York to Florida to see her mother. She tells her mother that the source of her distress is her husband’s inattention, that he just stopped paying her attention. Leona chuckles and says,
You always wanted too much attention! You wanted so much attention from everybody all the time that you wore people out! You wore me out, you wore your father out, may he rest in peace, by the time you were 15 years old!
In anger, Leona reveals that relocating to Florida was no accident, and that in fact she was attempting to shield herself from CC’s constant need for attention. Their relationship struggles are not uncommon as the nuances of many mother daughter relationship can be difficult to navigate.
Having experienced tensions and having some degree of emotional baggage is in fact part of the human experience. Yet, for some mothers, daughters, sons, and spouses these rifts run so deep that there is little chance that either party is going to be able to put their differences aside even when care is needed. Stepping into the role of caregiver is an honorable act of love, it can be rewarding, and in many circumstances the act of caring for someone you love can lead to emotional and spiritual growth. It should also be noted that caring for someone you love can place additional strains on your relationship, even when there is a solid foundation. Therefore, practicing emotional self-care is an important strategy for self-preservation.
What is emotional self-care?
Emotional self-care is the act of wrapping yourself in a blanket of comfort and shielding yourself from situations and individuals that increase your distress. It also means, that sometimes you will need to repel individuals and possibly circumvent situations that are likely to derail your emotional peace.
What happens if you don't practice self-care?
So, what might you encounter if you do not actively engage in self-care strategies? You are likely to experience some level of emotional stress and when compounded over time unresolved stress can lead to distress and eventually burnout. Having outlets for your stress and having someone with whom to confide is essential. Networking with other caregivers and talking to those in situations similar to yours can also be of benefit. What matters most is that you make emotional self-care a part of your daily routine.
7 emotional self-care strategies
In addition to having the proper outlets you may also participate in practices that you alone can control to ease your emotional distress. The following are seven strategies that you may find helpful when developing a plan for practicing emotional self-care:
Make a play list of music that brings you comfort. Listening to music can change your mood. You might make more than one playlist so that you have a variety of tunes that you can listen to depending on how you are feeling at the time. When you are feeling stressed you may choose to listen to a set of tracks that you find relaxing or you may choose to listen to a different type of music when you are sad.
Write an encouraging letter to yourself. When you are emotionally distressed it may be really challenging to identify your most positive attributes. Consider writing a letter of encouragement and address it to yourself. When you are having a particularly challenging day you can pull it out and read it aloud to remind yourself of all the great things about YOU.
Create a no dumping zone. Have you ever picked up the phone or walked into a room and someone begins talking non-stop about all of their problems? It can be exhausting to have someone dump all of their distress on you. Creating a no dumping zone can be a great way to set boundaries and re-direct individuals who might not respect your need for emotional wellness.
Set a time to be alone in quiet and peace. Setting a time to reflect and to relax your mind can be a perfect way to begin or end your day. This alone time should not require you to do anything rather, it should be about time to focus on emotional wholeness.
Listen to what your body is telling you. Are you feeling tired all the time, experiencing aches and pains, or walking around with your stomach in knots? Listen to your body, perhaps your body is trying to tell you something. Should these symptoms persist it is important to reach out to your doctor.
Be gentle with yourself. You may find that in the course of caring for a loved one you become frustrated, short, or in some situations you may even feel angry. It is okay to experience a wide range of emotions, in fact it is healthy. Embrace your feelings. Don’t beat yourself up by feeling guilty or by overthinking your actions. Be gentle with yourself, you are human.
Find passions outside your role as a caregiver. Make sure that you are taking time to do things that have nothing to do with your role as a caregiver. Reach out and ask for help if you need someone to assist with the care of your loved one so that you can do something you enjoy.
Learning to effectively put your needs first does not come naturally for most caregivers. Should you find that you are in need of more pointed support do not be afraid to reach out to a professional counselor or therapist to help you find ways to care for yourself while you care for your loved one.