Caregivers Need an Arsenal of Tools for Loved Ones With Dementia
A carpenter wouldn’t show up to work without a belt full of essential tools specific to carpentry. Caring for a loved one at home requires an arsenal of tools specific to the jobs that caregiving entails. Matching the right tool to a job makes a task easier for the caregiver and, through the care process, makes your loved one more comfortable.
Some of the tools you’ll need are specific to the person for whom care is provided. However, certain items come in very handy if caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Gather and keep the following for in-home care.
You can’t have too many
Remember when the kids were little? There were a few things we couldn’t live without and could never have too many of. For instance, running out of diapers or the accompanying wipes is the kiss of death for any mother. The items have changed, but the sentiment is the same. When caring for a loved one at home, it is impossible to have too many of the right tools.
The more the merrier. Useful for more than bathing, washcloths are great for when a paper towel, napkin, or even a flushable wipe won’t do. You can throw them in the wash.
I suggest purchasing less expensive washcloths for caregiving duties. Big box stores, like Walmart and Target, sell inexpensive brands in a pack of 10 or more tied together with a pretty ribbon.
The less expensive washcloths aren’t particularly luxurious, but you won’t use them for spa treatments or even for showers and baths, though you could. They’re useful for numerous caregiving duties, and if one is used for an indelicate task, you could even choose to toss it. Otherwise, keep it eco-friendly and toss in a load of laundry. By the way, I’ve found it useful to use only white, bleachable washcloths, for obvious reasons.
Like washcloths, towels purchased in bulk are handy for caregivers, have multiple uses, and are great for placing across a lap to catch lunch, dinner, or breakfast spills. Your loved one is dressed and ready for a doctor’s appointment or for church but breakfast or lunch is still on the menu. Dressing requires a lot of energy for an older person. Help them to avoid redressing because of stains. Inexpensive towels with a medium thread count will work fine as a spill and stain barrier.
A warm towel is magnificent following a shower or bath. Throw one in the dryer for a few minutes prior to helping your loved one from a bath or shower. Drape it around them for comfort.
Rugs can pose a hazard for an elder person and caregivers often remove them from the bathroom. On bath day, use a towel to wipe up water from the floor. A towel won’t stay in place, but a sturdy one is useful when assisting your loved one from the shower. Help them to step onto the towel to avoid slipping on a tile floor. Remove the towel once you’ve gotten them dry from top to bottom and place pool or street shoes on their feet to avoid slipping. Again, white, bleachable towels are the best choice. Throw in the washer along with the washcloths.
Reusable cloth pads
Disposable pads are useful, but reusable cloth pads are better. Also known as incontinence pads, the cloth type is more absorbent and can be thrown in the wash. They don’t shift or bunch up like disposable pads, which makes them more comfortable. They’re a little pricey, but worth it, especially considering the price of purchasing disposable pads over and over again. Keep a package of disposables for days you fall behind on laundry or for an added measure of protection beneath the cloth pad at night.
Old-fashioned soap and water is better, and hand sanitizer is helpful on the go, but it’s useful at home, too. Getting up from a chair to walk to the bathroom and wash hands is no big deal for a strong, healthy person. However, a person with dementia might balk at moving from their spot, and washing hands becomes a battle. Hand sanitizer to the rescue.
It is much easier to care for someone with mobility. A mobile person continues with normal tasks, like going to the bathroom on their own or climbing into bed with minimal assistance, or perhaps without it. Independence slips away from a person with dementia, but using a walker provides a measure of autonomy. Choose one that is adjustable to the person’s height.
There are other helpful caregiving tools; for instance, did you know renting is possible? We’ll explore more possibilities in a future column.
Note: Alzheimer’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Alzheimer’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Alzheimer’s disease.