Family caregivers who have begun caring for their senior loved ones are being challenged by tasks that they have never done.
There are things they need to do each day requiring physical strength many don’t have.
There are also medically complex tasks family caregivers often just don’t have the skills to complete.
Family caregivers are finding completing these tasks more difficult and frustrating thanAge Proof Your Brain: Tips to Keep Your Noggin Young http://www.northwestpharmacy.com/healthperch/age-proof-your-brain/ they ever thought they would be for them. They need help from others and training from healthcare professionals to meet the needs of their senior loved ones who are trying to stay at home.
What type of activities do caregivers often feel unprepared to complete?
According to an October 2012 AARP Public Policy Institute report called Home Alone: Family Caregivers Providing Complex Chronic Care:
- 46% of family caregivers were performing medical/nursing tasks for individuals with “multiple chronic physical and cognitive conditions”
- 78% of family caregivers were managing multiple medications for their seniors
- 35% of family caregivers providing wound care requested more training
- 53% of family caregivers acted as care coordinators
- They also prepare food for special diets, administering IV fluids, performed injections, managing incontinence and physically transfer seniors
- 1 in 5 family caregivers are spouses; many are not receiving home help or family support while providing medical treatments
Family caregivers who provided complex care, including medical tasks normally performed by trained healthcare personnel, thought that by completing these duties they were keeping their senior loved ones at home and out of institutions.
Even those tasks that are routine, which many would think not that difficult to achieve, such as household chores, cooking, dressing, bathing or toileting can be overwhelming for caregivers. Some caregivers are themselves aging and finishing many of these duties for themselves, not to mention for another person, can be pressed to the limits of what they can handle.
There are ways that family caregiver can learn about providing care that has in the past been performed by trained medical personnel. While there really isn’t a user’s guide for caring for a senior loved one, there are ways to learn.
- Online caregiver certification programs – there are many different kinds of training programs in which family caregivers can enroll to learn tasks essential to caring for their senior loved ones. There are programs specific to a disease state or treatment that you can find. The Alzheimer’s’ Association has certification training modules for dementia caregivers. Online training can be obtained for First Aid, Wound Care, Coping Strategies, Dealing with Conflict, Promoting Mobility, Medication Management and more topics needed by caregivers. Some of these programs are free and others have a reasonably low cost for caregivers.
- There are e-learning modules that show you important care principles and topics of interest to learn more about a specific area of need that you might have.
- DVDs and books are available on a wide variety of subjects of interest for caregivers.
- Cooking classes especially for certain diseases such as heart disease (low fat cooking) and diabetes that will help you prepare healthy meals.
- Hospital-based teaching from healthcare professionals is available in many communities. If your senior is hospitalized or in a rehab facility, the professionals should instruct you on the treatment plan so that you can continue it at home.
- Support group participants often have many caregiving tips that can help you learn to provide care to make things easier.
Yomiuri Shimbun Method
Yomiuri Shimbun is a method of transferring a person without strenuous lifting on the part of the family caregiver. It is being used in Japan and much of Europe.
This technique involves the use of sliding sheets strategically placed. It can help you lift someone or adjust their position while lying in bed or in a wheelchair.
Using this method reduces the pressure and risk of injury for both the caregiver and the senior loved one.
If your senior has slid down in the bed, especially in a hospital bed that allows the head of the bed to automatically raise, you can more easily scoot them back into the proper position once the head of the bed is back in a recumbent position.
According to this technique, the head and shoulders are placed on a pillow with a sliding sheet placed under the shoulder blades and another under their buttocks. Your senior’s knees are bent upward and a no skid sheet placed under their feet for resistance. The senior then lifts at the waist to scoot up toward the head of the bed. If they are unable to do so, a sheet or heavy towel is placed under their hips. The caregiver then pulls up carefully using the towel or sheet to scoot them back into position. This allows them to move without being lifted.
A similar technique is used in a wheelchair. This is especially helpful when your senior scoots their bottom to the front of the wheelchair and is in danger of slipping out. It helps you scoot their bottom back into the chair without lifting.
Your senior loved one should assist with these movements as much as possible but using a modified technique such as this can prevent injury for both caregiver and senior. It might take a few minutes more to maneuver but the benefits will be worth the extra effort for both of you.
Caregivers Want Support
The efforts for fundraising and building awareness for a cure for specific diseases goes on every day. We hear in the media and are contacted personally for our donations to fight this disease and find a cure for that disease.
However, when asked, family caregivers would prefer funds be set aside for support for them to handle the daily caregiving tasks according to a recent study.
Of course a cure for disease, especially dementia, is important but because ten times more money is spent in research compared to supporting caregivers, many wish money could be allocated to help them personally provide care.
When funding options were ranked by participants of a recent study, caregivers’ number one need was funding to support them. Number two was money for long term care and number three was funding for a cure. Fourth in their ranking was person-centered education and training and lastly on the list was advocacy to reduce stigma of dementia.
The National Plan for Alzheimer’s has been spending the lion’s share of available funds on research. Caregivers shared their feeling that because there will likely be no cure for dementia in their lifetime and perhaps even in their children’s’ or grandchildren’s lifetimes they wished that funds could be provided to help support caregivers.
By whatever means caregivers learn more about performing the necessary day to day tasks they need to complete to provide the proper care for their senior loved ones as they try to stay at home longer, the need is great for more educational opportunities.
It may take more than one learning session to master some of the medical tasks today’s caregivers are called upon to perform.
Healthcare professionals can help with user-friendly models to train caregivers and the support them as they journey through the world of medical management of their senior loved ones.