How to Compensate a Family Member for Providing Care
Many families reach a point when they recognize that an ill or older relative needs help. There are usually warning signs: difficulty with daily activities; memory problems; trouble with banking and finances; multiple falls; problems with driving; forgetting medications. Sometimes an elderly or ill loved one needs more than occasional assistance — they need full-time care.
Simplify clothing choices by putting out an outfit for the care receiver to wear, or give an option of two outfits. Do not ask open-ended questions like, "What do you want to wear?"—this kind of question can overwhelm someone with dementia.
Dental hygiene is important for overall health. Poor dental hygiene may lead to heart disease, gingivitis, stroke, osteoporosis and respiratory disease. In addition to causing bad breath, it can also affect one's ability to eat, chew and talk. Certain medications can cause "dry mouth." Dry mouth makes it more difficult to eat and swallow, produce saliva, and causes tongue irritation.
People respond to our body posture, facial expression and tone of voice more than our actual words. Your upbeat mood can help keep the person you are dealing with remain calmer.
You need to pay attention to the non verbal clues the person you are caring for is giving you. Understanding his/her feelings may be more important than the content of the conversation. Acknowledge feelings whenever possible.
Talk to the physician to see if medication, enlarged prostate or a urinary tract infection might be causing the problem, especially if there is a sudden onset of incontinence.
Investigate various incontinence supplies. There are many kinds of pads and underwear. Each person will have different needs and different products will work best for each one. A pad inside pull up underwear will provide increased absorption. Do not call them adult diapers, but rather protective underwear.
Set up the bathroom to make it as easy as possible for the person to get on to and off of the toilet, e.g. having a raised toilet seat and grab bars.
Notice when the person gives a sign about needing to use the toilet, e.g. agitation, fidgeting, tugging on clothing, wandering, touching the genital area. Have a routine and take the person to the bathroom on a regular schedule, e.g. every two hours. You may have to respond quickly if someone indicates they need to use the bathroom.
Do you help to care for a family member or friend who is frail, disabled, has a chronic illness or cognitive impairment? Then it's back to school for you! Our popular Caregiver College for learning and sharing is offered in two ways: as a day-long program, or in a series of 4 classes on consecutive weeks. Class is open to anyone, is FREE, and includes valuable information and hands-on practice on transferring skills, incontinence care and toileting, bathing, hygiene, grooming and dressing, dental care, feeding and nutrition, dealing with behavioral issues, and caregiver self-care.