Most of the time we don’t think about all the consequences before we jump in and do what we do. Maybe it isn’t really consequences, but more the techniques and training you will need for certain tasks. Unfortunately, some caregiving tasks are not on-the-job training. They can be dangerous to your loved one and to you if not done properly.
July 6, 2022
Find your strengths and your “not-so-good-ats” (weaknesses). Find your helpers. Have them figure out their strengths and “not-so-good-ats” too. You will have to honestly assess your abilities, your capabilities, and your training needs.
You know that there are some things that you can do, things that you can take care of and things that others will need to handle. Knowing is always better. It helps you to make a plan, make a schedule and prepare for the future.
Sure, you can fly by the seat of your pants and find yourself in a constant state of managing by crises. Talk about exhausting, frustrating and maddening, this will do it. Planning for what you can plan for makes everyone feel more safe, secure and settled. When the unexpected arises, you can handle it easier and with less stress.
Some tasks that caregivers do, provide and handle.
- Buy groceries, cook, clean house, do laundry, provide transportation
- Help the care receiver get dressed, take a shower, take medicine
- Transfer someone out of bed/chair, help with physical therapy, perform medical interventions—injections, feeding tubes, wound treatment, breathing treatments
- Arrange medical appointments, drive to the doctor, sit in during appointments, monitor medications
- Talk with doctors, nurses, care managers, and others to understand what needs to be done
- Spend time handling crises and arranging for assistance—especially for someone who cannot be left alone
- Handle finances and other legal matters
- Be a companion
- Be a (usually) unpaid aide, on call 24/7
- Be some emotional support
- Be backup care and extra care when needed
- Take care of lawn maintenance, outside house maintenance
- Help with wheelchair usage
- Help with oxygen usage
- Help with CPAP machine usage
- Help them walk with a belt to decrease fall risks
- Help turn them and move them in bed
- Help with hearing aid insertion and removal
- Help with false teeth
- Bathe them (maintaining modesty and dignity)
- Change sheets with them in the bed
- Pay bills
- Help/Monitoring physical therapy exercises at home
- Checking blood sugar (how and when)
- Checking blood pressure
- Checking weight
- Handle a crisis or an emergency
- And much more
As you can see, some of these things you can do and handle. Others may take some training. I know that there are online training courses and probably some in-person training places in some areas. You will need to search in your area for what is available.
Tennessee Department of Health
Meet Caregivers Caregiver Training
A Place for Mom trainings and videos
These will get you started.
Do you have the physical strength to transfer the care receiver? Do you have the physical strength to help someone get into and out of the shower or bath that is mostly dead weight? Toileting and bathing are intimate experiences and are very tough to handle. Not everyone can or will learn do it. It can be very unnerving and very uncomfortable. Your loved one will feel the same way. Be patient and respectful. It is going to take more time than you think for bathing.
Personal hygiene is probably the hardest to do. No one likes it, but it is necessary. You will have to make the decision to do it, all of the love you feel for them will not make it any easier. You will have to use discipline to get it done. Get yourself trained. The training will help you to feel more comfortable with doing it safely. The training will help you increase your confidence. The training will help your loved one feel more safe and secure.
You are more apt to be able to help with personal hygiene if you have been properly trained. As many family members as possible need this type of training. It is a learnable skill. Focus on the positive aspects of them being clean. Think about how you feel after a bath or shower. You do feel better. You do rest better. Teeth brushed, hair combed, lotion on body with clean clothes makes everyone feel better.
Full bathing two or three times a week is good enough. Do spot cleaning on the other days. You want to keep the skin from breaking down. You want to prevent infections from happening. A daily bath for dementia patients is better because they like routine. Lotion up after the bath. You can find your routine and rhythm.
What if you have a bad back and you need to help your loved one out of a chair or from the floor. How can you do that without hurting them or yourself? Learn the techniques. How much dead weight can you lift safely? Get yourself trained.
When you can no longer do personal hygiene or lift and transfer safely, it is time to bring in home care help or begin the transitioning to assisted living/nursing home.