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CAREGIVING AND PERSONAL HYGIENE

As you already know, the challenges that accompany the caregiving role are plenty, not the least of which is maintaining adequate hygiene. Getting ready for the day can be exhausting. While there are some proven methods that help, there is no one-size-fits-all formula. Consider these suggestions as you see to it that your loved one is properly cared for.

1. Be patient with yourself

It is not uncommon to experience complaints, resistance, or even combatant behavior. These are indicative of the disease and not a result of something you are doing wrong. Resist the urge to look for a cause or cast blame upon yourself. Don’t take their frustrations personally.

2. Develop and stick to a routine

Disrupting your loved one’s routine induces anxiety, confusion and frustration. If they feel disoriented, they will be more apt to be resistant or even combative. Come up with a simple morning and evening routine that works well and stick to it as much as possible. Be concise and only include what is necessary. You don’t want to wear your loved one out before they are ready for the day.

3. Encourage independence

Honoring your loved one’s independence, may require more time and direction. Be patient and avoid rushing them. Offer succinct directions so as not to overwhelm them. Give them a task that they are capable of, such as brushing their hair, while you tend to something more difficult like cleaning their dentures. It will boosts their self-esteem, and distract them from the fact that they actually are dependent.

4. Limit correcting

It may be instinctive for you to correct your loved one, especially if you have raised children. But the care we provide for our elderly is contrary to that which we give our children. It is imperative that we, as caregivers, are willing to adapt. Our loved ones aren’t learning to do daily activities, they are forgetting how to do them. The objective here, isn’t to teach them. It is to support them.So when they don’t do something “right” or the way they once did, like parting their hair on the right side instead of the left, resist the temptation to fix it. If it’s not going to put them in harm’s way, let it be. But if it poses a danger, be subtle as you redirect.
5. Prepare for bath time

Bathing can be one of the most difficult challenges. While it is important to communicate to your loved one that you will be giving them a bath, delay doing so. Explaining too soon (before breakfast, for instance) may prompt premature anxiety and they may get fixated on the bath, which will interfere with other activities. It can also make the trip to the bathroom more difficult.

Have everything prepared and ready so they can return to their normal routine as quick as possible. However, be aware that quick and rushed movements may feel aggressive and perhaps even scary. Acknowledge their fears and don’t chastise them for their resistance. Reassure them as you tend to the task.

6. Less is more when it comes to wardrobe

Simplify the dressing process for your loved one by limiting their options of what is available. Remove confusing and restricting articles like pullovers and lace-ups and replace them with zip-ups and slip-ons.If your loved one has an attachment to a certain piece of clothing, it may help to add articles that give them the same tactile and sensory experience.   

At the end of the day, remember that your goal is to make sure your loved one is well taken care of. Consider that you may have to set aside some of your own standards. Try to keep your focus on the simple and crucial elements of care.

Contributed by Leah Bingham

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