When you’re in the caregiving role, every day brings on new challenges. What’s easy for you and me may seem to be a big challenge for the one you are caring for.
Disease often comes in stages. Difficulties increase as the disease progresses. Not only do you have to learn to adapt to the challenges of your loved one having the disease, but you also have to adapt your daily living processes to bring this gradual decline of health and abilities into your routines.
Your home living space can increasingly be a challenge People often take a second look at their spaces after a loved one is confined to a wheelchair, but the transition starts long before that. Clear your home and remove obstacles such as:
Floor rugs – as people age, many shuffle their feet, which can make them more prone to falls as they catch themselves on transitions. All floor rugs should be tacked down, and bare flooring should have non-skid surfaces.
Furniture – furniture should be placed far enough apart for wheelchair access, or about 5 ½ feet apart. Ensure all furniture is well built and can take weight if your loved one leans on it for support.
Lamps – table lamps should be secure enough that they don’t easily tip over. Make sure someone can reach lamp switches and cords without discomfort, whether seated or standing.
Decorations – any free-standing objects such as vases, statues, even side tables can be difficult to navigate around. Make sure they are away from well-traveled routes.
Outlets – all outlets should be updated and include Ground Fault Interruption. This gives added protection against electrical shock for a person trying to plug something in, especially if their hands or feet are wet.
Locks – remove locks from rooms, especially from bathrooms, to avoid the potential of not being able to get to your loved one quickly.
Faucets – be sure all fixtures are easy to grab and easy to turn on and off. For memory decline, it may be necessary to paint or use color to distinguish the difference between hot and cold.
Dressing – helping with the dressing process can be difficult for both parties. Whenever possible, replace buttons and zippers with Velcro tabs. Loose fitting clothing is easier and more comfortable to get into. Make sure to allow enough time to be able to slow down through the process.
Eating – replace your eating utensils with padded or built-up handles to make the process easier. Depending on the condition, many have difficulty chewing or swallowing. Allow plenty of time and ensure you take in meals that are easier to eat.
Avoid overstimulation – only you know what your loved one can handle. Learn when to say no, and how to put breaks in throughout the day to give you both a chance to calm. Independence often comes with adding more time for each activity you do. If you increase your time limits, frustration doesn’t have a chance to grow.
What tips do you have as a caregiver?