Being a caregiver can be challenging. You may be attempting to balance your caregiving responsibilities with your career, or you might feel overwhelmed or out of your depth. It’s easy to become burned out while caregiving too. If you are working as a caregiver, you likely received training and education to prepare you for the job, even if it might not cover every situation you find yourself in. If you’re caring for a friend, partner, or family member, you may have been thrust unexpectedly into the role with little or no preparation. Whether you work as a caregiver or the position is an informal, unpaid one, here are seven things every personal adult caregiver needs to know.
How to Select The Correct Incontinence Product
No one likes to talk about incontinence. The person you are caring for may feel ashamed or embarrassed if they struggle to make it to the bathroom on time, and it can be a hard conversation to start. However, selecting the correct incontinence product can be life-changing for both of you. There are a wide variety of adult disposable diapers available. Finding the most comfortable and practical size, shape, and brand for the person you are caring for can help them feel cleaner and more independent. Incontinence products come in the form of pads, diapers that you pull on like regular underwear, and diapers that have sides that pull apart for ease of removal. The right incontinence product is out there.
The Best Ways to Minimize Fall Risks
Falls can be incredibly dangerous, so knowing the best way to minimize the risk of falling is imperative. According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries for older adults and the most common reason for injuries in older adults that require admission to a hospital. To help minimize the risk of falling, make sure floors are clear of tripping hazards and clutter and that they aren’t wet or slippery. Keep their living area well-lit, and install handrails where possible. If you can, avoid using stairs. You should also know the side effects of the medications the person you are caring for is taking, as some of them may cause dizziness.
Exact Nutritional Requirements
Maintaining a balanced diet is crucial for the continued health and well-being of the person you are caring for, but it may be difficult if they can no longer go grocery shopping or cook for themselves. If you can’t be around all the time, make sure they have easy access to healthy snacks. They may have dietary restrictions related to their health, medications, or their ability to chew. If possible, consult their doctor so you can ensure you’re providing healthy, nutritious food. It can be helpful to involve the person you’re caring for in meal planning and prep if they are interested and able. This can help them feel more in control of their life, improving feelings of both independence and dignity.
With the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, keeping the person you are caring for’s living space clean has never been more essential or more challenging. Many people who depend on caregivers are vulnerable to COVID-19 due to their age, a compromised immune system, or other health factors. Know the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting, and use the right products for your situation. Keep up-to-date on the latest best practices for protecting yourself and the person you are caring for from COVID-19.
Keeping the person you are caring for’s living space clean isn’t just necessary for preventing COVID-19. It can also reduce allergens, the likelihood of catching other illnesses caused by viruses or bacteria, and improve their mental health.
Many people who require the assistance of a caregiver are on one or more medications. As most caregivers aren’t also pharmacists, it can be complicated to manage multiple medications and their side effects. Be aware of potentially dangerous side effects. Something as simple as dizziness or muscle weakness can cause a fatal fall. Other medications may have unexpected minor to moderate interactions, and others have withdrawal effects if the person you are caring for stops taking them or runs out between refills. A pill organizer can help both of you keep track of what day and time medications need to be taken, as can phone alarms.
Self-Care is Vital
Practicing self-care is essential to avoid burnout. This is advice for taking care of yourself, not the person you are caring for, but it’s still worthwhile. Caregiving is demanding, and it can feel hopeless at times. It’s not, and you’re making an enormous difference in the life of the person you’re caring for, but watching them struggle, particularly in the case of a parent, is hard. Take time for yourself. You may have scoffed at that if you’re attempting to balance a career on top of caregiving on top of other personal responsibilities. What time? You probably don’t feel like you have any to spare.
You don’t have to take a bubble bath, get a pedicure, or meditate for 45 minutes a day. Instead, incorporate self-care into your existing routine. Buy a handsoap with a smell you love. Take a minute before you fall asleep or after your alarm goes off to breathe. Little things add up, and they make you happier.
You’re Not Alone
If you’re caring for a friend, partner, or family member, or even if you’re employed as a caregiver and want to learn something new or brush up on your skills, there are classes available. If you’re struggling with your caregiving duties, there are support groups both online and in person. You don’t have to learn everything yourself, just like you don’t have to deal with any emotional ups and downs by yourself. You are not alone.
Becoming involved in the caregiving community can be especially helpful as COVID-19 continues to be a major issue. It’s easy to feel isolated and alone when you aren’t interacting with other people, even if social distancing is important to stopping the spread of the virus and protecting the people around you. Look for a discussion forum or call a friend. Programs like Zoom or Skype that allow video conferencing can help you feel close to people even in times like these.
Caregiving isn’t always easy, but it’s rewarding. This list of seven things every personal adult caregiver needs to know is a good foundation for assisting both you and the person you are caring for.