When you are a caregiver taking care of the elderly or the invalid, one of the most difficult and stressing thing is washing their bodies and toileting. And do not think that this is only odd for you as the caregiver but it is also difficult for the patient too. While you find it rather inhibiting that you cannot have free time for yourself, the patient feels that their privacy has been infringed. So how do you deal with all this?
Get tools to help you out
Physically handicapped patients do not always have to be washed if you have the right efficient tools to make the work easier. If the elderly person is for example having problem washing unreachable parts of their body or wiping their bum, you can always buy toilet and washing aids that will help with reaching those parts. They are usually designed such that they are long to reach out and can hold tissue paper as well as moistened wipes for adults. You could also get a bidet if they are comfortable using one.
Personally I loved the freedom wand toileting aid that is very lengthy and soft to the skin. It can hold wipes, tissue as well as shaver, wet clothes and ointment pad so that the patient can clean themselves with ease. The freedom wand though expensive has made my caregiving a simpler experience.
Talk openly with the patient
Create a conducive environment full of openness so that the patient does not feel bad talking to you. Let them address their fears and what they feel about themselves when you have to walk them to the toilet, undress them and wash them or help wipe their butts after emptying the bowels. Talk to them too about what you feel and do not at any one time make them feel that they are a bother to you. Tell them that you enjoy taking care of them so that they can feel loved.
Get a support group
There are always caregiver support groups either online or offline in your local community where you can meet and unwind. Share experiences with others and tell them of your challenges as well as the wins. In this support groups, you will soon realize that you are not alone or maybe there are other caregivers who have a harder time than you actually do. Lets say for example you are taking care of a Parkinson’s patient with tremors, you will find out that there are other people out there taking care of permanently immobile muscular dystrophy patients and you will feel moved by their stories and therefore find the energy to keep on keeping on after realizing that there are other people out there who have more work than you thought you had.
Find free time to unwind
Taking care of the patient one month after the other can be quite depressing and within no time you will find yourself resenting the job and even hating the patient. You will also get too fatigued to work. To avoid such things happening, you need to always create some free time, however difficult it is to do so to unwind. Find another family member to take care of the patient as you go for that very much needed
vacation or date. If you are in sports, try to find free time when the patient is asleep to go out and swim, play ball or whatever game you are passionate in.
Find a counselor or mentor to talk to
Talking can do great in helping you unwind. As a caregiver, I always have someone who has more experience in the field to talk to whenever I feel that I am too stressed or feel like quitting. The mentor or counselor is able to help you feel lighter and get the energy to continue in your good work. Counselling will help you with attachment theory where a caregiver feels so drained after a patient they were fond of dies. Caregiving can also cause burn out
Reflect on the far you have come to get motivated
Whenever you feel as though you are not making any progress, think of the far that you have come. Reflect back on those days when you would feel sick from seeing someone on an invacare hospital bed. Think back of those days when you feel embarrassed from helping someone with incontinence. This will always keep you on track and help you feel that you are making good work. If your patient is also making progress, think of the days when things were so difficult for them and feel great about the far that you have brought them.