Practical advice for carers
A few important tips that will help in providing everyday care:
Organize the surrounding space
- If possible, the person under your care should have a separate room with easy toilet access or a commode. If independent toileting is impossible, there should be a urinal or bedpan by the bed. People using briefs should be provided with beds that allow easy access to facilitate the changing of absorbent products.
- Set up the furniture in a way that provides the most space. There should be no obstacles or unnecessary objects on the way to the toilet.
- If possible, mount special rails that will help a person with limited mobility move about. It is important to mount such rails in the bathroom.
- Place a bedside table by the bed and use it to keep necessary items handy.
- It’s a good idea to have a dedicated cabinet in the room that can be used to store items such as medicine and care products.
Hygiene of the bedridden person
- Make sure you have all necessary items on hand before you begin providing care.
- Protect the bed with a special hygienic underpad before attempting to carry out a sponge bath.
- Start the bath by washing the face, ears, and neck. Proceed to washing the arms and torso. Carefully dry the parts you have washed. Do not rub the skin with a towel; instead, pat the skin dry.
- Turn the person to one side to wash their back.
- Take care to clean between the toes when washing the feet. Remember to dry them.
- After washing the body, apply moisturizing body lotion.
- Take care of areas exposed to chafes and bedsores by using special body care creams.
Remember that the skin condition of your loved one mainly depends on the care you provide. Look after their skin with careful hygiene and the use of skin care products designed for that purpose. This will save the bedridden person a lot of suffering and help you avoid extra work.
Time planning and Everyday Care
- Remember that looking after someone doesn’t require just one thing – it includes feeding, washing, spending time together, and making sure that your loved one feels good.
- Everyday try to find some time for conversation, entertainment, or to simply rest together with your loved one. Make sure that each day includes some activities that will give you and your loved one satisfaction. Depending on the condition of the person you care for, these activities may include watching movies, reading, crossword puzzles, playing a game or taking a walk. These will keep your loved one entertained and let you rest.
- Use bibs during feeding. Disposable bibs are most suitable because they can be used to wipe one’s mouth. A bib will protect clothing and save you from extra cleaning after a meal.
- An ill person who is staying at home most of the time should feel that they have your full attention. However, that doesn’t mean you should relieve them from every activity but only facilitate carrying them out. Encourage your loved one to do as much as possible. Motivation is an important part of uplifting a person.
- Ensure the mental comfort of the person you look after. If they experience urinary incontinence, supply absorbent products that neutralize the unpleasant smell of urine and provide dryness and security.
- Long term care requires establishing a certain routine. It creates a sense of security and stability when you administer medicine, carry out rehabilitation, feed, or look after your loved one’s hygiene at the same time everyday. A routine helps you find a moment to rest and also makes it easier to organize your time.
- Planning the day in advance helps to avoid anxiety and haste, therefore improving the atmosphere around the person you look after. Efficient washing, feeding, and product changing saves time that you can use to rest.
- The condition, age, and mental state of the person you look after should influence the way you communicate with them. Remember to work out your own model of communication.
- An ill person might cling to more outlandish thoughts and ideas. Be careful what you say. It is easy to raise futile hopes or harm the person with your words.
- An ill person has rights including the right to information regarding their condition. Do not deprive the person of that knowledge unless they have explicitly stated they do not want to know. If you aren’t able to explain the condition, ask a professional for help. Always remember to speak clearly and in plain words.
- Explain what a treatment will feel like and what effects it might bring. If you succeed in motivating that person, rehabilitation might be much more effective.
- Try to transfer positive feelings to your loved one, even when you don’t receive the same feelings in return. Remember that being in such a condition can make a person afraid, uncomfortable, and stressed.
- Listen to what your loved one is trying to say. Pay attention to their body language. A conversation with the person you look after may uplift them and help you discover information that will help you provide even better care.
- Remember nonverbal communication. Often, a touch is more meaningful than words. It’s a good idea to hold your loved one’s hand, stroke their hair, or perform other small acts of affection. These gestures restore strength in your loved one and may help soothe their suffering.
Looking after an ill person requires a lot of strength and energy. If you want to be ready to face that challenge, remember that you must look after both the unwell person and yourself. Find more information on this subject in the Look after yourself section.