July 9, 2014

Hands-On Skills for Caregivers Caring for Someone with a Brain Disorder

When you are a caregiver, finding time to take care of your own physical needs is difficult enough, but taking care of the physical needs of someone else is even more challenging. Assisting someone else to dress, bathe, sit or stand when they are upset, agitated or combative requires special strategies. The following techniques can make taking care of a loved one’s physical needs easier.

Approach from the front and retain eye contact. When assisting someone physically, do not approach him or her from behind or from the side. This action can startle and confuse the person in your care, leading to increased levels of agitation and paranoia. Instead, approach from the front. Touch the care recipient on the shoulder, upper arm or hand and tell the person what is going on. Use a calm voice to walk him or her through the whole process.

Elicit your loved one’s help. Even when frail, your loved one might be able to shift his or her weight or move his or her arms or legs to make physically assisting them easier. A little help from the patient means a lot less work for you.

Allow the person to finish what they are doing. If, as a caregiver, you are running late, the tendency is to hurry your loved one, too; however, this rushed atmosphere is very difficult for care recipients, especially those who suffer from memory loss or brain impairment. Though you may try to sound calm and encouraging, it is easy for loved ones to pick up our anxious vibes. So, even if you are running late, allow some time to finish the current activity before moving onto the next.