Caregivers are an incredibly innovative bunch. We come up with all sorts of unique solutions to problems. A few members of our community shared their favorite tips and tricks to make caregiving easier.
Have one to add? Put it in the comments below.
Give them choices
Whenever possible, let your loved one choose between two options. “Do you want your bath now or in an hour?” Caregiving, in some situations, is what you are GIVING to the patient, not DOING to the patient. Choices, where possible, also provide for dignity and some level of autonomy for those who otherwise have very little. – Virginia B
Keep diaper mess to a minimum
The best thing I did for myself while caring for my husband who had to wear diaper’s for the last 6 month’s of so pertains to the diapers and clean up clothes. When I took his diaper off I had a one gallon zip lock bag and it went directly from my hand to the bag and was zipped immediately. Af for the wipes, I put them in a smaller zip lock bag the same way. None of these were ever laid down, straight from him to the bag’s and zipped. Everyone said they had never been in a house before where under the same circumstances there was at least a slight smell. I changed him as soon as he was soiled and never let him lay in anything but a clean diaper. – Barbara N
I purchased a diaper Genie it the baby section. It’s easy to move next to the bed and swallows to odors and all soiled items including the chucks. – Ronda B
Have a go bag
I keep an updated list of hubby’s meds on my phone; I’ve always got it with me so it’s never a problem if it’s needed spur of the moment. I also keep a “go bag” in my van so if we have to go to the hospital suddenly I’m ready… I’ve got it stocked with snacks, water, phone chargers, etc. – Maria E
Create the tools and systems you need
Our son is non-verbal and due to multiple disabilities he can’t operate a communication devise….we use a calendar and sticky notes to help him help US get back to ideas he had. Example: he uses eye gaze to tell us he wants to watch a movie, but it’s time to take him to his day program…. on the sticky note I write, “Robert wants to watch a movie when he gets home” and I stick it on his calendar. When he gets home he uses eye gaze towards his calendar and “reminds” me about our plan….before this simple system he would get frantic that we would forget and feel frustrated and misunderstood. This has transformed our days. – Mary T
Google. Google calendar, Google docs, Google tasks, Google reminders, Google maps. Need to keep up with someone else’s appointments or share appointments with someone else? Create a second (3rd, 4th,…20th) calendar and share. Need to manage medication lists, contact sheets, etc.? Google docs. Portable and shareable grocery and/or task list? Google Tasks. Need to remember to stop by the store, pick up prescriptions, or call someone back? Google reminders. Need directions? Google maps.
“OK Google.” Turning on this little charmer on your Android cellphone is a great time saver. “OK Google…. Create a new appointment with Dr. Doe for February 23, 2018, at 9am.” “OK Google…remind me to stop at CVS.” “OK Google…remind me to call the bank tomorrow afternoon.” “OK Google…remind me in 45 minutes to remove the casserole from the oven.” – Joseph A
Use a little distraction
Subtle feeding trick: when offering a bite, don’t ask “are you ready” or “another bite?” Say something c completely unrelated. For example, “wasn’t today beautiful day? “And as they start thinking, raise the spoon to their mouth and automatic reaction will be to Open their mouth. I’ve had great success with this Little trick. Clearly, you want to be careful that the person is a good swallower, and of course there’s no guarantee what happens to the food once it’s inside their mouth especially if you have a spitter. – Steven R
Roll with the rules of their world
As a dementia caregiver for many years, one of the biggest things I learned was to enter their reality. No matter what weird things come out of their mouths, just agree with them and roll with it. For one thing, if they feel they are being listened to and understood, they are far more likely to be agreeable with what you want them to do. And for another, it takes you on some interesting journeys. My favorite example: Sitting with my dad by our large picture window that looked out over our cul-de-sac. He was watching the ships come into the harbor, so happy. I pulled up a chair beside him and put my head on his shoulder and watched the ships come into the harbor, too. One of the happiest memories I have with him in his final days. – Kathe P
Keep people busy
I always let my wife, who has dementia help with everything possible.
Folding laundry is her favorite. We have a closet full of linens that looks like a 3 year old done the job, as for me, I see my wife doing something to keep keep her mind working. – John W
Make everything fun
Humor. I try to make my wife laugh or at least smile. Just something silly I will do to lighten the mood. Sometimes it works sometimes not. She has such a beautiful smile. – Greg S
Humor. I kept her laughing and engaged in conversation about kids, grandkids, and other topics outside her hospital room. – Dennis B
Get help with moving people
Someone here I think suggested a satin pillowcase under the butt to help slide off the bed and onto a chair etc. works great and reduces aggravating bed sores. – Pam C
Use a pool noodle just under the fitted sheet and on top of mattress. Keeps one from rolling out of bed! – Susan W
Use hospital pads to turn or pull up & for accidents for someone bedridden. – Karen D
Learning to set boundaries. I have learned that I am not super woman and have to say no sometimes. – CIndy H
Caregiving can be stressful, hectic and especially isolating. Reach out to friends and family if you’re sinking. A phone call helps so much, even if interrupted throughout. And biggest thing for me – no matter how bad a day is, there’s always tomorrow which holds a clean slate. Some mornings I literally envision God taking my hand and pressing a reset button. It helps. – Celia M
You can read all the responses here.