Caregiving will not be complete without assisting the patient in performing activities of daily living (ADL). ADLs are basic self-care functions a patient needs to keep healthy. These activities are eating, bathing, toileting, dressing, walking, and moving around. For a caregiver, helping a patient with these tasks could be the most tiring and time-consuming thing the caregiver would have to do in a day.
Being new to caregiving should not overwhelm you and make you give up on one of the most important decisions of your life, to care for a human life, so consider these ADL tips to get you through your day in a breeze.
In general, follow these helpful tips:
- ENCOURAGE INDEPENDENCE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. Part of your role as a caregiver is to make your patient feel good about themselves and to prevent frustration, and nothing can do that better than letting them do things for themselves. So allow activities where they can be independent caring for themselves but within safe limits.
- ALLOW ENOUGH TIME FOR THE PATIENT TO PERFORM A TASK AND THEN YOU FINISH WHAT THE PATIENT COULD NOT DO. Patients are limited by their physical illness, so caregivers must give them enough time to finish their tasks to let them have a sense of accomplishment.
- HAVE A SCHEDULE AND A ROUTINE. Make a daily plan of activities and have a routine. This is especially helpful in caring for young children and those who are confused.
- KEEP THE PATIENT’S PREFERENCES IN MIND. Establishing a great relationship with your patient means respecting their needs and wants. Sometimes, something as simple as letting them use their favorite things or just playing their favorite music can make the day a lot easier for both of you.
- DIVIDE BIG TASKS IN TO SMALL ONES. This tip is particularly useful in dealing with patients who have dementia and have difficulty understanding and following instructions. So next time that you help them dress, instead of saying, “Put on your clothes” you can tell them to put their shirt on, slide their right arm then their left, and then button their shirt up. It will take more time for them to analyze how to perform big tasks than follow simple instructions.
- ANTICIPATE NEEDS AND GATHER ALL SUPPLIES AND EQUIPMENT BEFORE STARTING CARE. This technique will prevent you from going to and from the patient’s room and feeling exhausted from all the running.
1. Serve hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
2. Cut foods into small bites.
3. Garnish their plate with a colorful food.
4. Choose lighter utensils.
5. Offer a sip of water every after a few bites.
6. Play their favorite music during meal time.
1. Use liquid soap and shampoo in a dispenser to prevent picking up the slippery bar soap.
2. For patients who are weak, keep a safe sturdy chair for them to sit on while in the shower.
3. Ensure that grab bars and anti-slip mats are installed.
4. For older patients, keep the bathroom warm and free of drafts.
5. For patients with decreased sensation, test the warmth of the bath water before the patient get in to the bath water.
6. Ask the patient to clean what he can reach and finish the rest of the bath for them.
7. Clean in between skin folds.
1. Use raised toilet seats with arm rests for those patients who have difficulty getting up and down.
2. Teach the patient how to use a self-wipe toilet aid, an assistive device to help them reach and clean their private parts.
WHEN WALKING OR MOVING AROUND
1. For patients who are in bed most of the time, help them sit up and dangle their feet first for a few minutes before helping them to stand and walk. This prevents them from fainting.
2. Use a transfer belt or a lift to move weak patients from the bed to a chair or to another seat.
1. For confused patients or those having difficulty with hand movements, let them use shirts that open in the front; Velcro fasteners are more preferable than buttons.
2. For patients with advanced dementia, limit the choice of clothes for each change to two choices.
3. For weak patients, comfortably loose pants with an elastic waistband are preferable because they are easier to put on and take off.
Helping patients perform activities of daily living is a challenging task. If it gets overwhelming for you as a new caregiver, keep in mind that your best teacher would be your own experience over time as well as your genuine concern for your patient. As you go through your daily work, you will gain more insight and knowledge on how to care for your patient, and this would ultimately help you develop a system that truly works.
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