Eldercare Trickery and Caregiver Tips
Updated: Nov 4, 2018
Tips and Tricks for Working with the Elderly
There will be days you will need to do some underhanded things to get your parent or spouse to do what you want them to do. From putting in those dentures during meals, to taking a shower TODAY or going to the bathroom before going to bed.
Don't feel bad about using a little trickery on them every now and then. I guarantee they used some on you when you were young like "You can't go outside until you finish all your dinner!" or " If you bring your grades up, we'll give you $5 for each 'A' you bring home on the next report card." Using these tips to motivate them will make your life easier and diffuse an onslaught of arguments and frustration.
Please leave a commit for members and visitors of this blog. Many could use a little assistance and direction from you. Remember you all are on the same team working in collaboration with each other while individually working with your aging parent or spouse. Let's get started on some TRICKS and TIPS.
TRICK... When my mom came home from the hospital, she wouldn't eat so I had to give her protein drinks but she became picky and didn't want to drink the Ensure protein drinks because she didn't like the way it taste. So I blended up strawberry flavored one with banana in it, adding a little ice cream then asked her if she would like a shake... she then agreed to drink it. The next time I would add orange juice or chocolate/mint, peaches/ cream, etc. As she improved in strength, she began to ask me what was in those shakes. Needless to say, I had to come up with a new tactic.
TRICK... which I used to get my mom out of the bed, I would make her sit for short periods of time sitting at the edge of the bed. I would gradually increase the time by having her eat breakfast, lunch and dinner while sitting at the edge of the bed. Then I began to have her come to the kitchen to eat her meals and eventually she began to fix her own breakfast and go sit in the living room during the day. This freed me up to go to work for four hours a day and come back home during lunch to check on her. As she improved, I was able to take a day class at the nearby community college. Then come home, work with her and study at night after I got her settled in.
TIP...Your mom or dad sleeps all day and becomes active at night disturbing the household? As they age, they need less sleep and if they got all the rest they needed during the day, they will be up all night. Take them out for the next two to three days during the day. Go nonstop to the grocery store, movies, visit friends, to the school when you pick up the kids, places they like etc. Never letting them get no more than a 15-30 minute nap in those days and before you know it they will be sleeping through most of the night. Also have their iron and B-12 vitamin levels checked; that may just be the culprit. The lack of either of these elements will cause sleepiness.
TIP...Don't create "Learned Helplessness."
I have seen many caregiver do too much for their parent, spouse or disabled. The caregiver would literally take the toothbrush, put toothpaste on it and then proceed to brush the teeth for the parent or spouse! This person being cared for would have the full capability to use their arms but because YOU as the caregiver have taken on that responsibility. Overtime they begin to do less and less; they won't wash their own face, lift their feet to put on their shoes or help bathe themselves. You, on the other hand, are getting more and more fatigued and frustrated because you know they can do more. But the truth of the matter is that you have created a monster known as "Learned Helplessness." Yes, you catered to them so much that they have learned not to help themselves. Now you will have reverse this trend by helping less overtime and never revisit that again.
TIP...There will be times that your parent or spouse will not cooperate with you. You try sweet talking them, coercion, getting vocally demanding but nothing works. I suggest you use the grandchildren to do your dirty work. A grandchild for some reason can get them to moving where you can't. Try it!
TRICK...Your Parent Barely Eats? It's all about presentation. If you put too much food on a regular plate, they will get "psychologically" full just from looking at it. Try putting on a salad plate or large saucer instead. This give them a sense of having just enough for them to eat. Always provide a balanced meal of vegetable/fruit, dairy, starch and protein.
TIP... If your parent or spouse falls to the floor, have them get on their hands and knees like a dog and crawl over to sofa or any sturdy surface and assist them with pulling up to sit on the sofa. If they are weak to do so, then you will have to get help lifting or call the fire department to come and help you.
TIP...Monitor and know your parent's or spouse's medications after leaving the hospital or nursing home. You will find additional meds added and duplicated and will need to be re-evaluated or removed by the original treating physician.
TRICK...Have a parent or spouse with Dementia or Alzheimer living with you and afraid they will slip out the door? Place a large black mat at their door and the entry door. Some patients think that the black mat is a deep black hole and won't cross over it. For night time, place a door siren on the exterior doors and place a sliding lock at the very top of the door which makes it hard for them to reach.
TIP...Buy an ID bracelet for your wandering parent or spouse. Engrave their name and your phone number on the other side of the bracelet if they ever get lost. Put their name and your number in their shoes and slippers too.
TIP... Those Non-skid Socks wear out pretty quickly and can become a fall risk. To repair them or make your own, get some of the t-shirt paints that you write with and make a design at the bottom of their socks and allow to dry well before using. You can even write their name on the bottom so it identifies the owner of the socks.
TRICK...Hanging up the Clothes you washed or matching them up for your aging parent? Have them do it themselves by lowering the clothes rod just at their standing head level and add a lower one (about 3’ to 4’ off the floor) for pants and shorts. Place a hanging shoes rack on the rod or on the inside of the closet door for ease of access for them to retrieve. Doing this keeps them independent at getting their own clothes and keep them moving and keep their shoulder from getting tight from disuse.
TRICK... Tremors affect your aging parent or spouse ability to use their hands? Try a weight around the wrist or weighted objects like eating utensils, cups, etc. Nothing too heavy or they will become fatigued.
TIP...Bad Weather really does affect joint and muscle pain. So check to see what the forecast will be that week. Also know that the cabin pressure within a plane also affects your elderly parent or spouse pain level.
TIP...Does your home have a Salt-based Water Conditioner? You noticed an increase in blood pressure in you or your elderly parent. With this water conditioner, you are using salt laced water to cook, clean, bathe and wash and this is easily absorbed by the body thereby raising the blood pressure. Turn it off for several weeks and see if there's an improvement in their blood pressure.
TIP...Have your parents ears checked annually. It may not be that they are losing their hearing but a build up of wax in the ear canal or infection of the middle ear can cause this also.
TRICK...Having problems sleeping? Try rubbing the bottom of your feet with lavender oil, drink a glass of milk and add a few neck and back stretches before going to bed to help relax the mind and body.
TRICK...Your parent wants a pet but you are unable to manage both a new pet and take care of them. Buy one of the Faux Aquariums that is plugged in the outlet and looks like fish swimming in it or buy a toy dog barks or cat that meows, sits and wags it tail...problem solved.
TIP...If your parent or spouse are experiencing dementia, allow them time to answer a question. The brain processes information slower as the age so give them time.