Ear Care Tips for Caregivers from Give a Care
You know what can give you a real scare as a caregiver? Blood pouring out of your loved one’s ear! Completely anxiety-ridden and frightening, ear stuff is typically benign but can seriously get the heart rate up! We’ve had a couple ear issues with Mom that encouraged me to write this post about ear care. When in doubt, consult a nurse or doctor about ear issues right away.
As far as cleaning out Mom’s ears, what we used to do is simply swab them with q-tips after her weekly showers. Then one day, I found blood oozing out of her ear canal. Turns out, water had gotten behind her ear drum, she developed an infection and it burst her ear drum – yikes! Sounds much worse than it was, she didn’t even complain of pain, BUT, it did teach us a few things.
- DON’T dig with q-tips: Some doctors go as far as to say “don’t put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear.” Turns out earwax is super helpful at keeping out bacteria, dirt and other particles. To remove extra “gunk” but not go crazy on the ear wax, we have started putting half a capful of hydrogen peroxide in Mom’s ears after her shower, letting it sit for 30 seconds and then draining it on to a towel. Then I take a q-tip and gently clean out the stuff that came out with the hydrogen peroxide, never really going into the ear canal at all.
- Soak up water: Pop some cotton balls in the ear after showering and cleaning. Let it absorb excess water, and remove them after an hour or two. A doctor recommended this to us after mom had the ear drum burst and it’s worked great!
- Check for skin breakdown: Mom can’t hold her head up on her own for long so she always always has some sort of pillow behind her head. Very easily she can spend a good amount of time just leaning slightly on the same part of her ear, causing it get rubbed raw and develop a little sore. Keep an eye out for these before they get out of hand! If you do see a small sore on a ear, keep your loved one off of it as much as possible (using pillows to tilt them slightly one way or the other) and put a small dab of protective cream on it. Bonus tip: If Mom is sleeping completely on her side, we place her head on a half-moon (or neck) pillow so her ear sits in the hole in the middle and isn’t pressed up against anything.
Remember, always always consult a doctor or nurse if you are concerned about an ear infection or sore on the ear. Nurses do NOT typically carry around an ear scope (otoscope, speculum) so in order to get a full check-up on the ears, you should definitely go to the doctor. It’s always good to simply rule something out too!
Thanks for checking out these ear care tips from Give a Care. What other ear care tips for caregivers do you have? Leave a comment below!