Caregivers are often their patient’s lifeline, performing what the patient cannot do on their own.
Caregivers face all sorts of challenges. Not only do they need to be efficient in their tasks, but they usually need be creative in meaningful ways so their patients receive the best care possible. Doing simple things that help relieve a patient's pain, anxiety, and boredom, for example, can go a long way to improve their condition.
Can caregivers perform these kinds of therapies? In the strictest sense of the word, they cannot because therapies are structured activities that need to be monitored and evaluated, and caregivers are not trained or licensed to do so. However, they can utilize the same resources as those in therapies to help their patients.
Here are some creative ways to promote a patient’s wellbeing:
Music therapy is conducted by a trained professional who uses music to promote a patient's wellbeing. But caregivers do not need to be specialists to use music to care for patients. Simply ask them what their favorite songs are or what music relaxes them and find a way to have those playing when days are gloomy or when stress levels are up.
If the patient cannot express themselves well, like those with dementia, you could ask family members what the patient’s favorite songs are and then keep those songs on, especially if it has a calming effect when their confusion is at its worst.
Do not restrict them to listening quietly alone, either. They might want to sing along, dance to the tune, or invite others to listen. Allow this as long as they are safe in doing so.
Music improves mood, increases happiness, reduces stress and anxiety, improves memory, and eases pain. Go ahead and press that play button. Don’t forget to enjoy the music with them!
In the world of therapy, art is used to help patients express themselves without words. It is also a way to shift the patient’s attention away from their symptoms by focusing on the project in front of them.
We all knew how to have fun with paints and crayons as a child, and it's no different from hobbies like cross stitch or origami as an adult. The options are vast and materials are usually not too difficult to obtain, especially with online shopping available.
The best way to motivate patients is to let them see people in action as they do their art, or showing off the finished piece done by a fellow patient. If that doesn’t work, you could start a small project yourself and ask them to help out. Soon, they’ll catch the bug and want to do one on their own!
3. Introduction of a companion animal
Pet or animal-assisted therapy is the use of animals like dogs or cats to improve overall health. It has a calming effect and is found to reduce stress. Having an animal to care for increases a patient’s sense of purpose and improves their motivation to work towards their own health.
If the patient is an animal lover, it might be a good idea to introduce a pet. Of course, not all health settings will allow this. Hospitals, for example, are strict when it comes to allowing pets inside their premises. But if you are a home health worker, this could be a good option, as long as the patient is safe and comfortable at all times.
Physical exercise can have countless benefits, including promoting circulation, normalizing blood pressure, and boosting the immune system. There are many different ways for a patient to exercise, and the caregiver must always refer to the care plan or ask the nurse or physician which movements are safe to be performed.
When a patient is bedridden or has weakness because of a stroke, the caregiver is sometimes asked to move the patient’s body parts without any help from the patient. This is called passive exercise.
On the other hand, if the patient has no movement restrictions, one of the safest exercises for them is walking. A walk in the garden is a good way to reduce boredom, stimulate a good appetite, and encourage restful sleep.
Caring for patients is not just all about routines and daily activities. While these tasks are essential in nurturing a patient back to health, there are other means to contribute to overall wellbeing, like music, art, pets, and exercise, just to list a few. Caregivers should feel free to get creative and go the extra mile to help patients in these ways.
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