Personal Hygiene: Tips to Ease the Process

Hi Hygiene…

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Maintaining our personal hygiene comes easy for many of us but for other’s that are dealing with physical or mental disabilities that affect their daily living, it can be difficult to engage in task simple as brushing their teeth.  The elderly face issues with personal hygiene that include refusing to take baths, brushing their teeth, or wanting to change their clothes. Some can become combative, making it difficult for the caregiver.  Proper hygiene is important as it lowers the risk of developing health issues.

What I found helpful

For individuals suffering with memory loss such as Dementia or Alzheimer, it can be a struggle to get them to maintain their hygiene.  In the beginning, it was difficult to get my mother to shower and brush her teeth.  She would become angry and refuse to if I ask her.  I later found out that, using negotiating skills was a better tactic.  Sometimes I would “bribe” her by telling her, “if you take your shower or brush your teeth, we can go out for ice cream or for a ride”.  It can be something really simple—something that you know they like or have interest in to assist in getting them to bathe, brush their teeth, or even dressing.  It can be frustrating but remember to always speak calmly.  It’s frustrating and confusing for them.  With my mother, she would sometimes give-in.

As time went out, it became difficult to brush her teeth because she no longer remember how to brush,k2-_c7a73be5-0330-460c-9b9e-7c4041a498d8.v1 rinse and spit.  I knew I had to find a method or technique that would help because I didn’t want her to lose any teeth due to food buildup or developing cavities, I decided to purchase a Waterpik Cordless Water Flosser from Walmart which retails for $ 35.99.

The process is a little messy but it can prevent cavities, loss of teeth, or other health brushing3issues developing.  I would sit her on the side of the bed or in a chair, place a few towels directly in front–underneath her chin, almost like a bib (make sure they cover the chest and lap).  I fill the Waterpik with warm water and make sure I have all of the mouth supplies near (toothbrush, toothpaste), and I used non latex gloves.  Also, try using a kids toothbrush if you have problems with them opening their mouth.  The smaller the brush, the easier it is for you to get inside of their mouth.

With my mother, she’s not a fan of opening up her mouth so I would start out by gently placing the brush on her lips, which would cause her to open her mouth slightly and then I would be able to start brushing the outside bottom and top teeth.  I would then reach for the Waterpik and use mild “bursts” to flush out the toothpaste and any residue (food, etc.).  Make sure to gently hold their bottom lip, pulling it down gently, so that the water and residue drains out on the towel.  Sounds gross? Yeah, kinda, but you gotta do what you gotta do to maintain their help.

Sometimes, whenbrushing2 brushing the “Interior” of the teeth, she would bite down on the toothbrush.  I wouldn’t pull or snatch because I knew she would eventually open her mouth and release.  I would continue, repeat the flushing with the Waterpik, and lastly, brush her tongue.  With brushing the tongue, make sure to be gentle.  You don’t want to brush hard which can result in Taste Buds Damage.  Repeat flushing with the Waterpik until the mouth is free and clear of all toothpaste and clean.

This is not an easy process and is not comfortable at all for the person that you are caring for.  Remember to have patience, speak calmly and be gentle.

Here is a very helpful video for caregivers, that show the various steps in tooth brushing and techniques to use.

In my area, thanks to the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, they referred me to UM Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute Dental Service formally known as Kernan Hospital Dental, that serve children and adults who have limited access to oral health care in the community. This population includes mentally and/or physically disabled individuals. The entire staff was very nice and helpful and made her comfortable throughout all of her appointments.

ass_1307981001You can also use visit the Special Care Dentistry website which has a Referral page that allows you to enter your location information to find dentist in your area that provide dental services for those with special needs.  The Special Care Dentistry Association serves as a resource to all oral health care professionals who serve or are interested in serving patients withdesertfriends3 special needs through education and networking to increase access to oral healthcare for patients with special needs.

Helpful bathroom devices 

Personal hygiene can become an issue for those with limited mobility, disabled, or the elderly.  For the individuals that still prefer to do things on their own, although they may need some assistance, there are medical devices that can be used to prevent injuries such as falls.

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Bath Boards and Seats – Ensures correct alignment; eliminates movement between the seat and board. Gives additional confidence and security for users that would normally use a separate bath board and seat together. The frame is adjustable to allow for variations in bath depth and has a backrest for added comfort and support.

Grab Rails – These can be attached to the wall, ceiling or floor next to the bath. Straight or a slightly angledshower_grab_bar-cf1e2ba01b528b60628f644f2456d36d rails may be fixed to the wall to provide support when getting up and down in the bath. A floor to ceiling rail can be fixed to the floor and the ceiling and can be helpful if a bath step is used to get in and out of the bath, although it may get in the way if a bath board is used.

These items can be purchased from your local Walgreens, Rite Aid Pharmacy, CVS Pharmacy, or at any medical supply store.  You can also find them online and have them shipped directly to your door.  This is very helpful especially when you’re not able to travel out.

Remember, their are various resources available that provide helpful information on how to provide care for your love one. It’s always important to remember that, in caring for your love one, don’t forget to care for yourself.

Youth Caregivers

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Did you know that 1.4 million children ages 8 to 18 provide care for an adult relative; 72% are caring for a parent or grandparent; and 64% live in the same household as their care recipient. This data was collected by National Alliance in 2005 and the amount has significantly increased.  Youth caregivers are faced with an enormous responsibility in having to care for a love one while trying to take care of themselves.

At such a young age, you are still discovering who you are and needing someone to care for you.  Young caregivers must need figure out a way to juggle school and caring for a love who may need assistance with daily grooming, meal preparations, medicine and toileting.  It’s a lot to take on and can be very stressful, resulting in depression, frustration and stress. Some young caregivers are forced to leave school because it becomes overwhelming and they either can’t keep up in school or their love one needs round the clock support.  Many miss out on their youth and are forced to grow up so young.

Caring for the caregivers

And sometimes, life crumbles for adults, and kids step into primary caregiving roles.  “I became the caregiver toHT_youth_caregivers_jtm_131115_16x9_608 hold things together for everyone involved. Yes, it taught me valuable life skills. But the cost I have paid has been enormous. If I had someone to talk to, or if I could have known that I was not alone, life would have been different,” AACY volunteer Laurie Connors says of her youth.  Often, young caregivers have no one to talk to and don’t seek support because they are not aware of the resources.

Thanks to Co120517091729-connie-siskowski-story-bodynnie Siskowski, who started the nonprofit program Caregiving Youth Project at Boca Raton Middle School, the first of its kind in the nation, which aims to intervene early on in the academic lives of youth caregivers. Special classes, led by a mental-health professional or social worker, cover topics such as coping with stress and anger, managing finances and setting goals.

Periodic field trips and overnight camps offer recreational, social and educational activities. There are home-care demonstrations and workshops. The program also makes teachers and school administrators more aware of the children’s extenuating circumstances and how they can lead to truancy, absenteeism and dips in academic performance. The hope is to reduce the negative effects — anxiety, depression and feelings of isolation–that caregiving responsibilities can have on a child’s mental, physical and emotional health.

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Caregiver support organizations are raising awareness and creating support groups tailored to the needs of youth caregivers.  Scholarship programs are also available for youth caregivers to be applied towards college.  It is important that we continue to offer our support and make youth caregivers aware of the resources that are available for them.  We need to let them know that they shouldn’t feel alone or ashamed.

Blogging? Here are some practices that you can use…

Blogging? 

hi_Blog-01Starting a blog can be somewhat overwhelming but having a precise plan of your intentions can help ease that.  Before creating a blog, you need to determine your goal and what you intend on accomplishing.  Some blogs are created to promote businesses or for personal interest.  I decided that I wanted to reach those in certain arena that I had experience with.  I also wanted to reach those that may be seeking information and support and let them know that they aren’t alone and there are resources available. Knowing your intentions and who your target audience is helps determine your format and should be appealing to them.

After researching various online supports groups, I found some of these tips helpful:

Helpful Tips

  • Determine the focus of your group (e.g., family members of persons with Alzheimer’s, stroke survivors, children caring for aging parents…).
  • Enlist the participation of other families in a similar situation, if you know any.
  • Seek assistance from medical experts, social workers, or other clinicians who can provide consultation and meeting space, give presentations or facilitate meetings. Good initial contacts may be obtained from existing support groups, nursing homes, hospitals, family physicians, neurologists, counseling and home care services, Adult Day Care programs, senior centers, and local branches of national organizations such as the American Heart Association, the Alzheimer’s Association, or the Brain Injury Association. Make sure to leave your name, address, and phone number when contacting professionals or agencies so that they can make referrals to your group.

One thing that I like to do is to make sure that my posts are consistent and that I always reinsupportforce my same message throughout.  As I mentioned in previous blogs, many caregivers and those seeking support, often use online blogs as an outlet to relieve stress by sharing their story, research, and to establish relationships.  If the majority of my time consist of caring for someone and during my down time, I decide to visit a blog, I want to it to be a blog that is engaging, inviting, provides useful information, and up to date.  All of these features are important when blogging and helps attracts readers and establishes your blog among various other support groups.  Not only will you gain followers, but other bloggers won’t mind supporting you by sharing your information on their sites.

Tools

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There are various tools available that assist in you in creating a blog and help you with getting the message out there.  I was introduced to WordPress, an online publishing platform that allows you to create blogs by providing the setup, layout, and various themes.  Beginning bloggers can find online tutorials that offer step-by-step instructions.

Another helpful tool, that serves as a dashboard that incorporates social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and WordPress, is Hootsuitehootsuite imageI use Hootsuite to schedule blog postings for future dates and the software also has the capability to post to various social media sites on your behalf without you having to do it manually, one by one.  It is very helpful in getting your information out there and in a timely manner.

Details 

Blogging is not only about the writing but it has to be visually appealing also.  Readers value your content but incorporating video’s that are relevant to your topics can be helpful.  Video’s that contain information related to your subject can be posted and they are easy available. Sites like YouTube youtubeimageoffer a variety of videos and provide the links that allow you to them embed them.  Going forth, I would like to place video’s that display demonstrations of medical techniques that are useful in providing treatment and other video’s from medical professionals speaking.

polaroid-backsWe all like placing pictures on our blogs because it makes it look more appealing and often, the pictures used are relevant to information written but we must be careful.  I came across a blog that talked about being sued for using photos that you don’t own.  Many bloggers aren’t aware of this but there are sites that provide free photo’s that can be used.  Sites like FreeImages, and Flickr allow you to search images that can be used on your blog.

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Future

Blogging

These are a few best practices that I have used to help me start my blog and they have been helpful along the way.  I am very thankful for the resources that were provided and often refer to them before posting.  I look forward in going forward with continuing this blog and hope that I reach those seeking support and bring awareness to others.

Going social. To be, or not to be? That is the question.

social-media_peopleSocial media can connect you to a whole world of possibilities that you never knew existed.  It can be exciting, beneficial, effective, but it also can be addictive and harmful.  The benefits of using social media for caregivers is being able to connect to others that facing the same situation or challenges. There are several online organizations like Caregivers.com that are now creating online forums that provide resources for caregivers.  Many healthcare organizations sponsor on-site support meetings for a variety of issues where individuals can meet, share information and connect.  Although these are great resources, there are a variety of risk and challenges when implementing the use of social media and the need for support.

Sharing is caring, right?

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Sometimes, we aren’t able to go on the vacation due to the many responsibilities that we have, so we look for other ways to getaway, whether it be through just finding a peaceful hour alone in the comfort of our homes, a stroll through the park while taking in the scenery around us, or a day at the spa.  For others, they may not have the opportunity to even do such minor things so they reach for the most easiest and convenient outlet known to everyone…SOCIAL MEDIA.  Social media keeps us connected and engaged and we can access almost anything with a few clicks.  This is can be very convenient for those that are confined to the house due to health conditions along with those that offer support.

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While these sites are for support, some users see them as an outlet, a means to establish relationships, a place where they can vent and express their feelings without being judged. Although these support forums can be leftouthelpful, the can pose a problem especially for those that don’t know when over-sharing becomes too much.  It’s easy to get caught up but caregivers need to be mindful of those that they care for privacy.  Yes, you want to connect with others and share experiences, but you have to be considerate of how much health information is share and to what extent.  Would those that are receiving support appreciate you sharing moments that they may consider “embarrassing” with others?  Many of those that are dealing with various illnesses already feel stigmatized and isolated.

Social-Media-Book

Social media etiquette

While it so easy to get caught up in the use of social media, you must remember to be mindful of others and yourself.  Some find themselves sharing too much information, while others can start feeling consumed by the need to post to online support forums.  Consider some of the following factors when engaging in social media:

  1. Remember you’re not just speaking for yourself. The key for caregivers is to consider where the person they care for falls on this continuum, and to respect their comfort level as well.
  1. “Remember that your own comfort level with sharing your personal story through digital media and your loved one’s may be different,” says George Washington University law professor Naomi Cahn. “Tell your story, but be careful about how much you tell about your loved one.” Before you share, consider the reason. Gossip is a natural human instinct. Some studies show that it may even boost our endorphin’s, warding off stress and increasing our immunity, according to the British-based Social Issues Research Centre. But, of course, not all gossip is beneficial, especially when closely held details are revealed or someone shares secrets just to feel superior.

post_quoteRemember, to be mindful of your needs and those around you.  If you feel that you are becoming overwhelmed by your situation, speak with a professional that can provide recommendations and referrals.

Mobile Applications aid in Support

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I find myself seeking out the latest gadgets that can help make my daily task a little bit easier.  I have over 53 applications on my phone that range from banking to medical to weather updates.  All allow me quick access to complete daily task or to answer questions that I may have regarding certain situations.  Caregivers are often looking for techniques that will help them provide better care and support.  Although we use the World Wide Web to search for information, we need have a variety of useful applications available in the palm of our hand.   Family caregivers wanted mobile caregiving apps and there are now available.  There are a variety of applications that range from caregiver connection support groups to medication monitoring and symptom checking.

Mobile Applications

Here are a few apps that caregivers might find helpful:

  • Elder 411 and Elder 911 (Free): Elder 411 and 911 are two separate apps created by the same gScreen shot 2012-08-05 at 2.35.55 PMeriatric care manager and, as their name suggests, are both elder-focused. Elder 911 can help walk you through an emergency concerning an elderly loved one. There is a screen were you can select your relation to the senior (parent, spouse, etc.) and what stage of crisis they are in (before the crisis, at the hospital, post-hospital, etc.). From there, an assortment of checklists, steps, and pertinent information is available to help you manage an emergency situation. Elder 411 is a more widely-applicable app containing general caregiving information and tips on things like communication, financial matters, and safety.
  • pharmacyiPharmacy Pro (Free): This app is a comprehensive guide to prescription meds. It gives  information on the purpose, side effects, interactions, etc. of a particular drug. Also includes FDA information and allows you to search for clinical journal articles concerning certain medications.
  • Allrecipes.com Dinner Spinner (Basic Version: Free; Pro Version: $2.99): The time-crunched caregiver can think of this app as their, very own, private menu planner. The Dinner Spinner section allows you to input what type of dish you want to cook, the main ingredient you wish to use and how long you want to cook and gives you a selection of recipes that match your specifications. You can also press the “Spin Categories” button to generate a random combo of ingredients, time, and dish type. There’s also a place to save your favorite recipes and search from the allrecipes.com website.
  • Magic Window ($.99): When you’re stuck indoors taking care of an elderly loved one, sometimes you just have the urge to look at something natural and beautiful. Magic Window offers you a window into a number of beautiful landscapes and can even simulate the passage of time through the use of time-lapse photography. You can put a scene on a timer to experience a sunrise or sunset in a matter of minutes. The app comes with a package of scenes and allows you to purchase additional packages depending on your preferences.
  • Balance ($3.99): Balance is something every caregiver craves, but often doesn’t get. This particular app will cost you a bit more than some of the others on the list, but it was created by the National Alzheimer Center, a division of Hebrew Home at Riverdale, a non-profit care organization, and so offers a host of different features that Alzheimer’s caregivers may find useful. You can get information on the ins and outs of Alzheimer’s, as well as news updates about the disease and strategies for taking care of a loved one struggling with memory loss. You can also track their medication schedule and doctor’s appointments. Finally, the app allows you to share calendars and coordinate care with other family members. balance

Usefulness

I find these applications useful, as someone that’s always googling medication uses and side the side effects.  These applications aren’t limited to caregivers, those receiving support can use them also.  There applications that offer games to brain stimulation, music for mediation and relaxation, and task trackers.  GPS trackers can be downloaded to help with those that are at risk for wandering.

youtube A popular platform that’s not but has more than 1 billion users and half of the views are on mobile devices, is the worldly known YouTube.  The YouTube application can be downloaded to Android and iPhones, allowing users to search videos that touch on a variety of subjects relevant to caregivers and those needed support.  I used YouTube to find out the different methods used to perform “percussion methods” which loosens up mucus in those that aren’t able to do so on their own.  The variety of videos was very helpful for me.  I was able to implement them in the physical part of the support that I provide.

With these particular social media applications so readily available, it works for anyone seeking support and independence.  To know that you can connect to others that share your same situation and find useful resources can alleviate stress in knowing that you are not alone. Each application can be downloaded to your phone; some are only available to android and iPhone users and are either free or offered at a low price.

Remember, although these applications may assist in elevating your daily tasks, they are in no means to be used in place of medical advice.  If you think you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediate911ly.

Caregivers Connecting through the use of Social Media Applications

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Caring for a sick love one can be stressful, resulting in a change in your phcaregiver2ysical and mental status.  Caregivers end up giving so much and being deeply involved in the care of their love one that they forget to take time out for their own health.  Just being able to talk to someone about what is going on in, can be helpful in alleviating the emotional burden you may be feeling.  There are many caregiver groups that consist of individuals caregivers_aarpthat consist of other caregivers that offer support to each other while sharing the challenges that they face.  65.7 million caregivers make up 29% of the U.S. adult population providing care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged which is a staggering amount.

Connecting through Social Media

Until recently, a great achievement has been made with the creation of online support groups, which allow users to connect with one another, share concerns, ask questions and provide a variety of resources.  There are so many sites that provide support and it can become overwhelming. Caregivers.com is a place for caregivers of aging adults to receive understanding, support, news and tips.

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This blog uses social media applications such as Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest to connect to users and share their information. Another site that implements the use of social media applications like Facebook and Google + is Caring.com, a leading online destination for those seeking information and support as they care for aging parents, spouses, and other loved ones.  Many of these sites also use the help of Hootsuite to blast information and keep users informed.

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Caregiver SOS, a non-profit 501(C) 3 supporting program that serve seniors and their caregivers in our community, with special emphasis on wellness, prevention, and living well with chronic illness, place several videos on YouTube that consist of medical professionals, social workers, caregivers, and events relevant to issues that caregivers are facing. 

 To have these resources available at the click of a button can prove to very helpful especially to those caregivers that have limited time or simply cannot get away to attend local support group sessions.

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Being able to access such resources that allow you to find everything from nursing homes to home support is a great thing to have.  It is so many wonderful resources easily and readily available to those that is in need. It can be hard trying to balance caring for someone and maintaining your own health and sanity and it is a major relief to have someone out there that can have your back for once.  As a caregiver myself and working with others that seek the same support, I am really thankful for the resources that have implemented the use of social media to bring awareness and provide support to those in need.

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Social Media Tools

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Social media engages those of all ages and for various purposes.  As a user myself, I like to stay connected to several sites and find myself either downloading the different apps to my phone or opening up several tabs on my computer to connect to each platform.  That can get somewhat frustrating, clicking back and forth and sometimes, accidentally closing a tab. There are various tools out there that can assist you in engaging your intended target.

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Social Media Tools

I recently discovered sites like:

  • Pinvolve, which is a new application that allows you to sync Facebook and Pinterest.
  • Also, pictures posted to your Instagram can be shared on Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook.

pinvolve  Pinvolve is becoming popular with businesses that want an easier way to reach its consumers by sharing a significant amount of information to their audience.   A cool benefit of Pinvolve is when connecting through Facebook, your feed resembles Pinterest.  Your posts are presented in a cool format and can be repined by many along with the likes and comments.  Pinvolve is becoming popular, with an increase of repins by 150%.

 Making it easy

There are other social media tools used to enhance your social media experience and to assist in reaching your intended target.  Buffer is a new social media tool that allows you to connect through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ pages and even your email account, to share your post and whatever you’re reading. You can schedule all your updates on each of these sites and track who’s retweeting these post.2-social-sharing-double-traffic

Buffer saves time, giving you the opportunity to share multiple posts at one time leaving you without the hassle of having to open various tabs and post individually to each site.  Another great benefit is that businesses are able to view the traffic on from postings on Twitter and Facebook.  This data can be used to help you decide if you’re reaching your intended target and if you need to change the information that’s being sent out.  Users can connect through mobile devices which helps those that work on the go without being restricted to a pc.

buffer-video Buffer is easy to use.  You are in total control of what is shared and when.  Another good feature about Buffer is that allows you to share images.  Buffer is an essential tool for those that are trying to make sure that they are heard and want to grow their business through the use of social media.  Buffer helps reach a mass audience, increasing engagement while saving time.  Anything that allows me to save time, generates a following, gets the word out and provides easy navigation of this social media world, I’m all for giving a try.