Eliza Brown is a millennial who partners with her mom in caring for her grandmother, Aj. As part of her work with the Caregiving Advice team, she shares her caregiving “hacks” on our Instagram feed — essentially, tips and tricks that have helped her better care for Aj. Here are 5 of our favorites.
Caregiving, like many other aspects of life, works by trial and error: finding out what works and what definitely doesn’t work. I think it only makes sense that in a community of caregivers these tips and tricks are shared! So every week or so on Instagram, I’ll be posting something that I’ve found helps solve a problem I’ve faced while caregiving, along with the hashtag #caregivinghacks. Not following us there? Join us!
Bring spring to the table.
Ready to celebrate spring, but getting your loved ones outside is no simple task? A favorite thing of ours to do is to throw tea parties at my grandmother’s house. Cut some flowers for the table, slice up fruit and cheese or any snack y’all enjoy, boil some tea, bring out that china you’ve been saving for a “special occasion.” It’s a simple, affordable, last-minute way to make a day less mundane and to bring some of that fresh, seasonal beauty indoors.
Pass the time in a helpful, hands-on way.
If someone you’re caring for can’t get out much (or at all) or struggles with typical “time passing” activities that require good sight and/or hearing, let them snap your beans, peel your potatoes/apples, stir your cookie dough, etc. This gives them the opportunity to help out and to feel needed, and keeps them from being bored. Try to find activities that are suited for their abilities — and that help you out, too!
Get a grip on slipping feet.
As her balance declines, my grandmother’s feet often slip as she shifts her weight forward when preparing to stand. I’ve found that shelf liner — the kind that is a foam substance and almost feels sticky because it grips so well — works wonders when placed under her feet as she stands, as long as any dust on the floor or the shoes is wiped off first, and as long as it is taken up immediately after she stands so she don’t trip. We have also put zigzags with a hot glue gun on the bottoms of shoes and socks that aid in gripping the floor, too!
Set a coffee alarm.
If you are a caregiver for a coffee lover who doesn’t get up on his or her own in the morning, put a coffee maker on their nightstand by their bed, set up with the grounds and water the night before. This way all they have to do is press the start button and pour their coffee! This leaves them with some independence, and allows them to start their day the way they like it, whenever they’re ready.
Bring a (toy) puppy home.
Pets are excellent company, but are also high-maintenance, expensive, and messy. Caregivers don’t need any expense, mess, or duties added to their plates. But these battery-operated pets sure seem to do the trick! If you’re caring for someone who could use some company, check out the toy aisle the next time you are at the store. Anything that moves, barks, or even talks back will be a good friend for the times you can’t be with your loved one.
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