Below I will be touching some useful tips regarding keeping your loved ones home, healthy, and thriving for as long as possible. These things I mention are to prevent possible decline in our loved ones’ health. I feel that if we can keep our loved ones as independent as possible, they will feel better about themselves. They will have a reason and a purpose to thrive, build up their self-esteem, and feel important. They may have lost a loved one or may be feeling lonely. You may have noticed the decline in their health or they be talking negatively about their lives ect. I will share some things that I have seen make a difference in our loved ones lives. Below are a few different examples of things I’ve seen play a role in helping our loved ones thrive.
Grooming and Tending to our loved ones outer appearance really makes them feel good about themselves and adds to their confidence level and self- esteem. This is even if our loved one is on hospice, has dementia or is unresponsive. I feel the fact that they know they are being well taken care of and feel loved gives them a sense of hope. We all have had our days where we may not feel as confident. When we are dressed up and put together, our confidence level is boosted and we feel better about ourselves. I feel if we implement these tips and make them a part of our patients daily routine, we will see a difference in their personality.
- Start the morning off with direct attention to your loved one by starting with a shower or bed bath. We can motivate by offering an incentive giving them reason to want to get up and ready for the day.
- Spend time putting lotion on your loved one keeping them lubricated. This allows you to spend the one on one time; which, in and of itself, is healing. This makes them feel important and loved. Spending time putting on lotion and giving a light massage does so much to prevent things such as skin break downs, tears, and sores. This also helps with their blood circulation, brings oxygen to the skin, and helps with range of motion.
- Take your time to make sure we tend to the our clients hair; especially our beautiful ladies. Let’s take our time to curl her hair, trim any facial hair, eye brows, stray hair, etc. Assist in shaving, makeup, dressing in pretty outfits and jewelry, perfume, etc. Have your loved one pick out a nice outfit and have them dress themselves to their fullest ability. For men, Be sure to comb/cut and trim his hair, shave daily, trim any stray hairs, eyebrows, ear, nose, etc. Put a nice outfit on him and put on some aftershave/cologne.
- Daily Showering: Try to shower our clients often. I realize this may be a hard task being that many times our elderly loved ones often times don’t want to shower. There could be many reasons as to why they don’t want to shower such as they have lost so much control of so many different things in their lives that they may feel dressing and showering is something they do have control over. Or it may be that their sense of smell and sight have decreased. Or they simply forget. Let’s get crafty with it since this is important that they shower for more than the fact that they will be clean; but also it will minimize skin breakdowns. The more they are nagged or pressured, the more they may resist. So we will have to be creative in the way we approach the subject of showering. For Example, Get the shower/bath ready (perfect temperature), lay out their favorite outfit, towel, under garments, etc. Now go up to your loved one and say “Mrs./Mr. Jones or Mom/Dad (with an exciting voice), come here I want to show you something.” This often sparks their interest and now you have their attention and they are curious as to what it is that you’d like to show them. Once you take them to the bathroom where all of their shower awaits them, you can say “look I have your shower all ready for you, lets hurry and get you in and out! I’m really fast at giving showers so we’ll make it quick and then we’ll go (name something they really like to do)” I can’t stress enough that we keep their bodies lubricated with lotion, petroleum Jelly, thick creams such as Eucerin, Nivea, Etc.
- Nail care: For our female loved ones, lets paint and file their nails and toes a new color every week (let them choose what color). Not only for sanitary reasons, but this will give them something to look forward to. Also try to pick the same day (this is easier for them to keep track). To know your finger and toe nails are clean and painted is a nice feeling and is good not only because of the fact their nails are clean and painted, but also for the one on one time and the love they feel when you are taking the time on them. For our Male clients, we would do the same routine but of course we would be filing and cleaning and not painting. ;-)
- Keeping up with our loved ones dental hygiene is extremely important. Take them to the store and let them pick out their own toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash. Remind them to brush their teeth first thing in the morning to get ready for the day as well as after every meal. It is good to keep the same routine daily. If your loved one has dentures, let’s friendly remind them to keep their denture care up. We should let them do it themselves as long as they are able.
Activities and staying active is a good way to build our loved ones confidence by increasing their manipulative skills and their physical activity. This will help them have more strength physically and mentally and help them feel more capable of doing more. I will mention a few ideas that we can implement to add to our loved ones’ daily activities. I feel to keep our loved ones busy and active will help add to their desire to thrive.
- Create a calendar and schedule what you will be doing daily. This is a way for them to always know what day it is and also to see what activity they will be engaging in. They can even help you think of things they would like to do weekly or monthly.
- Find out what your loved ones’ favorite songs are and dance with them. Listening to the songs they grew up with brings them back to the familiar good memories. This is soothing and comforting for them.
- Have a movie day! Get their favorite snacks and rent a movie that they would enjoy.
- Make projects such as glueing different things together like holiday ornaments to hang throughout the house, string popcorn, decorated pine cones, homemade bird feeders, homemade play dough, etc. Set up an area for them to paint. Color with them in a coloring book. The more they can do on their own, the better. Using our hands to make crafts is great for our manipulative skills and keeps us thinking.
- Schedule a game day where you play cards, checkers, tic-tac-toe, scrabble, word search, memory, crossword puzzles, etc.
- Go out on a nature walk and pick flowers and collect things. Take your loved one to the park and have a picnic.
- Simply have your loved one go to the mail box with you and let them open the box and get the mail. Have them sort through what they need and go through coupons, etc.
- Take your loved one in the kitchen with you and give them simple tasks to help to with. You can also have them pick out their meal of choice and have that set on the calendar. They can also be involved with simple tasks such as laundry as well. Just knowing they were able to help you is a good feeling for them and keeps them more independent.
- We can keep our loved ones active just by taking them around their home and having them show you pictures and other memorabilia. This will keep them moving without them feeling like they’re exercising.
- Visit the YMCA or any local recreational center. Visit the mountains for a picnic, window shopping, grocery shopping, the movies, lunches, etc. These are some things that may motivate them to get away from home and give them reason to get ready and keep them excited to know they have these things to look forward to.
Keeping our loved ones independent and active for as long as possible is very important. They will feel a sense of importance and that they are capable of doing things on their own. It is truly important for their thriving process. Giving our loved ones tasks that they are responsible for helps them feel needed. Letting them make decisions for as many things as possible helps them feel like they have a say and that they matter. So much of their independence has been taken so for them to have say in as many things as possible is very encouraging.
My next article will be part 2 on the topic of keeping your loved ones home and Thriving. I will touch on hospice and the topic of diet management as well.