Family Caregiving Tricks | Give a Care Blog
When it comes to family caregiving, especially providing what amounts to 24/7 skilled nursing care for a loved one, finding simple tricks that even save you a tiny bit of time or money can make a BIG difference in your sanity and general day to day living. Check out my top 3 family caregiving tricks:
Captain . . . Under Pads?
Yep, under pads. I’ve seen this question come up a few times on various caregiving facebook groups and it’s one of my most favorite tricks. Caring for a loved one with incontinence is a long road. In the beginning, you try and try as hard as possible to stay out of diapers and make it to the bathroom. As a caregiver you might kill yourself getting up multiple times a night, even carrying your loved one to the bathroom so they can make it to the toilet. Towards the end of that journey you simply end up with tons of laundry and soiled couches, chairs, and beds.
Mom wears diapers now, and has for a long time. For a while in the beginning we rotated a few reusable under pads and towels to place under her in case she leaked (which she normally did) – we often ran out when laundry was behind. What did we discover in our search to find economical and plentiful disposable under pads for adult incontinence?
Doggy training pee pads!
I just had this thought one day that they might work, and looked it up, and sure enough, right on the box, it says “For adult incontinence too!”. We get boxes of doggy training pee pads (under pads) from Costco for around 22 cents a pad, and they are worth every penny! Now you may be saying, “Woof, you throw out under pads daily? What a waste.” Yeah, incontinence unfortunately is a big time contributor to the land fill, so we try and dial back the carbon footprint in other ways like with recycling, watching our energy usage, and fortunately being able to opt-in to a wind-only energy grid for our electricity. That said, forget about it! If disposable under pads are going to make life a teeny weeny smidgey smidge easier, GET THEM. You and your loved one deserve it, and versus time spent doing laundry and money spent on that water, you’re bound to agree.
Starry, Starry . . . Butt?
We have this joke that I’m the Van Gogh of painting mom’s bed sore on her tailbone every time we change her diaper. Why? Well, because technically that’s what I’m doing. Family caregivers who help treat and monitor a bed sore know that barrier creams are a special kind of hell when it comes to getting some on your hand and trying to wash it off. Because Mom’s bed sore stays around the stage I phase, we are always applying barrier creams with diaper changes to help prevent the skin from becoming macerated and to keep contaminants (i.e. urine, poop) off of it.
I got tired of being unable to wash the cream off easily after applying with my bare (clean) hands, so I started using rubber gloves. It’s a real shame to go through the struggle of getting that rubber glove on to just throw it out after you’ve applied the cream though. (By the way, if you have ever cleaned a diaper, used hand sanitizer, and then tried to slip on a rubber glove, you’ll know what I’m talking about. #thestruggleisreal) So I had this thought, what if I could “brush” on the barrier cream in a way that wasn’t uncomfortable or painful for mom? The result . . .
Tub of barrier cream + medium silicone pastry brush!
I immediately scoured Amazon, found a pack of 5 silicone pastry brushes (what you use to egg wash a pie crust for example) for less than $2.50 a brush. That and a cost-effective tub of Corona cream, and we have our artist du jour bed sore treatment plan in place. We keep the brush on top of the tub of cream, high up on a table away from the floor and any potential dirt or contaminants that might stick to it. The silicon bristles are soft on Mom’s skin and she laughs so hard every time we tell her we’re going to paint her tushy!
Bananas, and Ice Cream, and Acorns . . . Oh My!
Ok, not actually acorns like from the trees – but acorn squash. This last favorite trick is simply my latest and greatest meal invention for Mom. Mom has dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, so all her food has to be smoothied and pureed to a consistency that is good for swallowing, won’t make her aspirate, and won’t take her too much energy to eat. That is a damn fine line to walk, so discovering a delicious and nutritious meal that is EASY to make and eat, and fills her up with lots of good nutrients and vitamins is always a huge win. So here goes:
1/2 roasted acorn squash (roast wedges til tender with a little olive oil and salt, remove skin)
1/2 vanilla ice cream
1 to 2 tbsp. peanut butter
(Optional) 2 tsp. flaxseed oil (for those Omega-3s!)
Blend with a splash of water or milk to get the consistency your loved one prefers. Here is why this meal rocks – fat in the ice cream is good for maintaining weight, acorn squash and bananas are rich with potassium, magnesium, a little fiber and calcium, as well as vitamins A, B-6, and C, and the dash of peanut butter (or your choice of nut butter) adds protein too! The sugar from ice cream might also provide an extra boost of energy during the day for your loved one, I know it sure helps Mom perk up.
Thanks for checking out these family caregiver hints, tips, and tricks from Give a Care!