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Encouraging Independent Living in Home Care

by Ed Dunning

Caregivers and home care providers are of a rare and special breed.  Selflessness exists in those that tend to the needs of the sick and it is not a trait that is easily found.  A pre-existing talent for understanding how difficult it can be for a person who has fallen ill and an innate intuition about how to deal with not just the physical challenges associated with serious illness, especially in long term and hospice situations, but the mental challenges as well. 


With any terminal or long term illness there are physical challenges that a caregiver will need to handle, but the true challenge lies in making certain that those physical obstacles don't create greater low self-esteem and poor self-image issues that can make a sick persons days longer and harder than they need to be.  The role of caregivers in encouraging independent living for patients is vital at every stage of life. 


There are so many tasks that a person goes through life performing everyday on their own, but when that person becomes ill and must depend on a caregiver to perform those tasks it can be embarrassing, disheartening and often leads to hopelessness.  The truly skilled caregivers and home care providers are equipped with the right tools to not only make their job easier and more manageable, but to make the care itself, less humbling for the patient.  


One area that is obviously difficult for both patients and home care providers is in the bathroom.  The function of this room can be greatly improved with simple items like locked raised toilet seats with handles , a Bottom Buddy to help extend a patients reach and even a universal toilet paper holder that makes keeping a fresh roll in reach a breeze even when bedside commodes are necessary.  In home care situations where getting to the bathroom is a problem, male and female urinals provide a discreet option without odors and messes.  Making it easy for a patient to do this once simple task themselves or even with as little caregiver involvement as possible is a great way to restore pride. 


Another problem area shares the room with toilet and it is the shower.  For many the solution for self-bathing is as simple as a good shower chair (a rotating shower chair is the ultimate self-bathing helper) and some No Rinse shampoo and body washShampoo caps and bathing wipes are a great option for limited mobility patients to tend to their own hygiene when a caregiver is not present.  When the strength and coordination for getting in and out of the tub or shower is not there anymore, but the dignity and pride is still intact, other products like open back gowns , wash mitts and shampoo basins make a caregiver's job quicker, having a less negative impact on the patient's ego. 


Other than the bathroom, most of a patient's controllable discomfort can be eliminated with simple comfort foods, proper cushioning and the right attire.  From egg crate cushions , Carex cushions and bed wedges that can make getting up from resting and sitting positions easier, and even more comfortable, to great circulating footwear like Comfort Strides , Edema slippers , Diasox and Swell sox that can make being on their feet a joy rather than a strain. 


Depending on the severity and level of illness and disease, caregivers and home care providers have a variety of items available to them that can help their patients maintain their dignity and pride while making the care providers job easier as well.  But there will never be enough gadgets in the world to replace the truly unique quality that a home care, hospice care and even a family care giver provides which is the time, companionship and skill of encouraging independent living for a strong emotional fabric. 

This article was published on Wednesday 17 February, 2010.
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