5 Caregiver Strategies Every Caregiver Should Know
Caring for another person requires patience and consideration. You can use Great caregiver strategies to help manage difficult caregiving situations and improve your charges state. Caregiver strategies are not complicated. But, using some tricks from the pros will help you stand out and bring joy to your loved one or client.
Make a Plan Before Starting Care
Great caregivers know that bathing and transfers can be difficult for those they care for. They want to minimize stress and create an environment of comfort and support. A great way to make care tasks more enjoyable is to have all supplies set up and on hand. Showering is a great example of a task that requires planning. You instinctively prepare your own shower but you want to plan for the comfort of your charge:
Do you have towels ready
Is the room warmed and comfortable
Have you checked the water temperature to ensure it isn’t too hot
Do you have mild soaps and washcloths ready
Have you set out clothing, so you don’t have to leave your charge unattended in a towel
Do you have shower chairs, walkers, or wheelchairs handy and in reach.
Is the room safe for transfers and do you feel comfortable supporting you charge at the level she needs
As you can see from the above list there are lots of factors to consider when caring for another person’s personal needs. When you initiate a care task with someone who has compromised physical or cognitive function, you must consider how the task will affect her safety. You need to make a plan that engages your charge while still allowing you to accomplish the care task in a safe comfortable manner.
Dementia – Live in Their World
Dementia care requires a special touch! New caregivers sometimes try to repeatedly explain their rational reasoning to a person with dementia. It can escalate into a frustrating mess with the caregiver baffled and the person with dementia scared and anxious – not a good outcome! As a person providing care you must remember that dementia is a disease. It is not simply old age or “forgetfulness”. It is a medical condition that causes physical changes in the brain and interrupts normal processing. As a caregiver your job is not to remind that person of “reality”(unless that brings peace and comfort to your charge). You role is to keep your charge safe, carefor, and comfortable. As you continue your journey into caregiving, you will learn how to be an expert dementia caregiver.
I once met a woman who had significant memory loss. She would ask her daughter several times a day where her husband of 50 years was. Each time the daughter would reply, “Dad died last year mom, remember?” And, each time, the mother would break down into hysterical sobs that would last until she forgot the conversation. The daughter realized quickly that this pattern was causing intense stress for her mother. She began answering her mother’s question with, “Dad went to the store. He should be back soon.” With that, her mother would continue whatever task they were engaged in.
Redirecting a person with dementia takes the focus off emotionally stressful situations. It allows you to meet the needs of your charge. Trying to bring a person with dementia to your present creates frustration. Live in the world they have created for themselves as long as it doesn’t compromise their health and safety. Redirection is one of the pro caregiver strategies.
Communication is King
In-home caregiving usually takes place in a personal residence where only you and your charge or charges dwell. While the act of caregiving is very one-on-one there is usually a support network of family, friends, and professionals who have an interest in your charge. Your role is to make sure all care team members are aware of changes and on board with the care plan execution. Great communication channels include written notes in the home, company provided online portals, texts, calls, and email. The channels you use depend on the needs of your charge and the supporting care team.
On the flipside over communication of every minor incident may water down the urgency of important communications. Make sure to read the level of communication each authorized person wishes to receive. For instance, nurse case managers may want regular health updates while a financial power of attorney only wants the numbers. Make sure your communications are timely, appropriate, and important.
Use Great Body Mechanics
Proper lifting and support protects you and your charge. Youtube abounds with how to videos and professional organizations offer training and support for proper lifting. You can’t provide great care if your back is out. And, your transfers will not go smoothly if you are not using proper technique. Often people believe size matters when it comes to transfers and hands-on care. While it is a factor, I have seen petite 4’11” women gracefully transfer clients a man with poor technique could not easily move – technique matters.
Know Your Charges Nutritional Needs
Unintended weight loss and malnutrition is a problem in the elderly community. When you care for someone else, nutrition should be a big consideration. Plan for your charges nutritional health. Take note of foods that she favors and create a consistent well received menu. People with dementia sometimes experience changes in hunger awareness and processing. You will want to place foods in front of you charge rather than asking if she is hungry. I have seen clients with dementia decline food when offered then dig immediately dig into a plate of food placed in front of them. If it is your charge’s normal meal time, prepare food. You don’t want your charge to skip meals because she has forgotten she is hungry or embarrassed to put you out.
Great caregiver strategies often come down to pre-planning. Know your charge and practice anticipating her needs. Your role is to provide care and engagement. You want to avoid stress and anxiety. So consider the needs of your charge and focus on providing consistent, considerate care.