8 Caregiver Hacks that Make Life Easier

Posted: 3/4/2019 8:00 AM by Interim HealthCare

Caring for an aging parent can be both gratifying and exhausting. While new challenges crop up from time to time, many recurring issues tend to cause the most stress. Avoid caregiver burnout and provide the best possible care for your senior loved ones by implementing these eight caregiver hacks:


1. Keep a “go-bag” ready. Sometimes it feels like getting out the door with your loved one takes longer than the outing itself. Conquer the chaos by preparing in advance. Pack a string backpack or small tote with the essentials. The actual list of essentials varies from person to person, but may include: tissues, sanitizing wipes, reading glasses, hand lotion, bottles of water and any medication the person may need while out and about. Throw in a magazine or crossword puzzle if waiting may be involved.


2. Master mealtime with finger food. When dexterity issues make handling a fork and knife tricky, eating can become less than enjoyable. Try serving up foods that are easy to eat without utensils, like sandwiches cut into quarters, raw or lightly steamed vegetables alongside healthy dips like hummus or guacamole, boiled or deviled eggs, frittatas cut into wedges like pizza (much easier to handle than scrambled eggs or omelets), fish sticks and chicken strips or squares of polenta, as a start.


3. Keep supplies for an activity on hand. Boredom can beget crankiness. Think of an easy activity your loved one might enjoy and then keep the supplies at hand. Some ideas include building a terrarium (using a kit), planting an indoor herb garden, baking cookies, putting together a large-piece jigsaw puzzle and coloring in an adult coloring book. Choose projects that you know speak to the person’s interests; that terrarium or herb garden would be perfect for someone who’s always kept a garden, for instance.


4. Combat confusion with labels. A senior with cognitive issues may have trouble remembering which drawer their sweaters are in or even which room is the bathroom. At times this confusion can stir up anxiety and anger. As you identify those things that your loved one has the most trouble finding, create labels for them. Write their names in legible block letters or print them out using a simple large font. If reading is a problem or you’d just like to make the labels more fun, search for images on the internet that you can print out — a pair of socks for the sock drawer, for instance. Creating these labels could be a fun project for both of you to do together.


5. Make dressing easier. Many seniors have trouble with buttons and zippers, and that can make dressing in the mornings and undressing in the evenings a major frustration. To help your loved one do more independently, thread a piece of string or yarn, or a narrow piece of fabric, through zipper tabs and tie a knot to form a loop. A loop is easier to grab than the zipper tab. For shirts with buttons, you can purchase an inexpensive button hook. Of course, buying clothing that doesn’t have either zippers or buttons, such as drawstring pants, makes these hacks moot. Some companies even make shirts and pants with Velcro closures.


6. Save your back in the bathroom. Helping someone use the toilet can be a pain in your back. Studies show that caregivers often get injured while trying to lift someone off a toilet or help with wiping. Give your senior more autonomy by outfitting the bathroom with an elevated toilet seat and/or grab bars around the toilet so they can get up and down more easily. You can find easy-to-install one-piece toilet rails that provide support arms on either side of the toilet. To make helping with toileting tasks easier on your body, squat instead of bending at the waist when you need to get lower to the ground.


7. Hang an activities calendar. Especially for seniors with dementia, confusion about what’s happening and what comes next (or even what came before) can be a big issue. To head off confusion and provide a comforting sense of order, buy a large calendar and write down doctor and haircut appointments, planned shopping trips, visits from friends or family, social activities and other activities or appointments. Place it in their line of sight.  


8. Hire professional home care services. Balancing your own needs and the needs of your family can be a struggle. This is true for anyone, let alone senior caregivers! Professional home care services can augment the love and care you provide for your loved one, taking some of the burden off your shoulders while also giving you peace of mind.

Interim HealthCare can give you peace of mind.

peace Our highly-trained home care workers car about you and your loved ones. They can help keep Mom or Day health and safe, and give you the balance needed to prevent burnout. Learn more about our senior home care services on our website, or contact your nearest Interim HealthCare location.