My loved one needs a lot of assistance
The way you care for your loved one depends on their physical condition and how much support they need from you. Are they unable to stand up and support their own weight? Do they spend most of their time in bed? Do they need you to help them get dressed and cleaned? If they fit any of those descriptions, this section is for you. Here you can pick up practical tips on how to take better care of them.
One of the most important things you can do for your loved one’s health and comfort is to help them with their personal hygiene. This is a very personal area of care though, and some carers find it embarrassing at the beginning. Although you might find it a challenge, helping them provides some of the most rewarding moments of caregiving. It could even help strengthen the bond between you.
Elderly skin care
As you may know, when we grow older, our skin ages too. It becomes quite fragile. As a result, elderly people need a special hygiene routine, one designed for their delicate skin. That’s especially the case if they suffer from incontinence, since urine and feces irritate and damage their skin. Gentle cleansing and protection helps prevent skin irritation and infection. It’s also soothing, and helps your loved one feel clean, comfortable, refreshed and healthy. That can actually give their confidence a boost. Three steps need to be considered when caring for their skin: cleansing, restoring and protecting. That’s where TENA skin care range could help you. It’s tailor-made for fragile elderly skin.
Skin breakdown and bedsores
As mentioned, it’s a good idea to protect elderly skin from urine and feces, which can be particularly harsh on it. Each day, when cleaning your loved one, try to check the condition of their skin. Then, if you see any signs of skin breakdown, you can take steps to stop it from getting worse. For practical tips on how to care for an incontinent person’s skin, see Incontinence and hygiene. It might be the case that the person you care for stays in bed for long periods of time, and is unable to change position regularly. If so, their skin is at risk of breaking down, and developing pressure ulcers and sores. You can prevent that by helping your loved one change position often and regularly. You and they could treat this moving around as a simple daily exercise. It could even be a good time for you to give them a short massage, to invigorate them and relieve the pressure from lying in bed. To find out more about preventing bedsores, ask your doctor.
Is the person you’re caring for spending most of their time in bed? Are they incontinent? If so, it’s best to use purpose-made incontinence protection like traditional Slip/Brief or belted Flex products – ones designed to protect from medium to heavy urine leakage.
Getting in and out of bed safely
The person you’re taking care of might need you to help them get out of bed. It can put a great deal of strain on your back, lifting and moving them. So it’s worth checking the practical tips on safe lifting in Ergonomics.
If your loved one can move about, with you supporting them, it’s good to help them do this. Just a little regular exercise will help their muscles stay fit, and lift their spirits. Before you do, though, it’s important to make sure your home is safe for them to move about. To find out more, see Home Safety.
Good diet and fluid intake
Your loved one may be inclined to drink less so that they don’t need to go to the toilet so often. This can cause problems though. It can make their urine more concentrated, and increase risks to their health. Try to encourage them to drink as normal, responding to their natural thirst. Mealtimes are another important consideration. It’s worth remembering that a meal is about more than just nourishment. It’s also a social occasion – something you and your loved one can do together. Maybe you could include other family members and friends to sit and eat with you, to share and have a laugh together. Your company will help your loved one’s health and spirits.
Feeling connected to others
No matter how old we are, we all love to have our hand held, our backs rubbed, or our body warmly hugged. Simply being connected with family members or friends feels good. When someone spends most of their time alone, these feelings become even more important. Experienced caregivers tell us that even small activities and doing things together can help brighten up the day of the person you’re caring for. For ideas of activities you and your loved one can enjoy together, visit Activities to Do.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help
Whenever we talk to experienced caregivers, the first thing they recommend is to seek help and support from others. It could be family members, friends, or local community or government services.