Being a CDPAP caregiver is rewarding.
It always feels good to be able to help those who need it the most, especially those we love. But when it comes to patient and senior care, it isn’t just about making them comfortable and happy, you become responsible and accountable for their safety as well. You will be thanked for the good things that you are able to do and possibly be blamed for the controllable negative events that may happen. This is the reality of being a caregiver.
Because of this, and many other reasons, you may want to consider equipping yourself with the learned skills that all paraprofessional caregivers are required to learn and put to practice from a licensed HHA training school, there are many schools throughout the area, many free of charge.
If this is not possible for you, due to other responsibilities, time constraints, etc. there are certain things that you should be cognizant of nonetheless.
If caring for a senior, generally there are a few special things that you should take the time to learn and become masters of.
The elderly are susceptible to falls because of age-related physical health declines like reduced muscle strength and flexibility, poor or impaired vision, or loss of balance and coordination.
The National Council on Aging reports that every 19 minutes a senior passes away as a result of a fall.
Other factors that also affect the elderly are dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other like-diseases that cause weakness and loss of control in the extremities. Some prescribed medication also cause nausea, dizziness, and low blood pressure such as sedatives and cardiovascular drugs.
As a caregiver, you should be able to read the situation and recommend measures that would prevent life-threatening falls.
If you are already the primary caregiver, you may already know the answer to some of these questions. However if you are not the current primary caregiver, be sure to sit down with them and review some of the following essential questions:
- Has the patient ever fallen before? If so, how many times in the past year?
- Were they recommended by their doctors to use an assistive device such as a cane or a walker?
- Does the patient have to push themselves up and hold on to something to balance themselves when standing?
- Have they ever felt numb on their feet?
- Do they take any medications that may make them light-headed or tired, such as a sleeping aid?
If they answered yes to most of the questions, they are at risk of falling and need preventive measures. There are two steps to take now.
First, you should be able to make them understand the risk of falling. Then, plan the next steps that you are going to do. This would involve you walking through the home and assessing what may need modifications.
Modifying the Home
The lights, stairs, bathrooms, and floors are the most common parts of the house that may have to be modified. Some families would need assistance when it comes to installing these preventive measures. Not all health/medical insurance covers this but some like Medicaid Managed Care Plans offer environment support modifications at no additional cost.
Nutrition and Food Preparation
Aside from fall prevention, being able to help your loved one stick to good eating habits is essential to maintain or even improve their general health. While some health conditions can be attributed to poor nutrition during an individual’s youth — eating a proper balanced diet later on in life can still be extremely beneficial. In fact, in many situations a better diet can help speed up healing and recovery.
Hydration is very important. On average, we lose 10 cups of body water daily from breathing, sweating, and going to the bathroom. We grew up believing that 8 glasses of water a day is the way to go, but studies have revealed that water intake is actually dependent on an individual’s activity level.
You must be observant and mindful about signs of dehydration like chapped lips, dry skin, and reduced urination. You can also always ask them if they need a glass of water every now and then to help keep them aware that hydration is important.
Observation and other soft skills like friendliness are must-haves. Master them together with some “special” skills to become the BEST caregiver you can be. If you have any questions regarding free HHA training programs, apply to ours at no cost to you.