Handling Caregiving Interruptions
Caregiving interruptions can make a caregiver’s day hectic. Caregivers take on a lot of roles besides directly caring for the patient. They clean the kitchen, wash the laundry, take care of a spouse and children, answer the door and the phone, et cetera and et cetera. They have to be all around the house throughout the day, and still do caregiving for a loved one. Still, the safety of the patient is the most important thing, even while the caregiver is fixing lunch, or getting the shower ready, or answering the door. Before you step out of the room to handle an interruption, you can set the stage for what happens next.
Caregiving Interruptions and Safety
Before you step out of the loved one’s room, direct your attention to these things:
- Is the light on in the room? It helps with vision and communication to have the light on.
- Is the patient seated or lying in a position that they can safely maintain for a while? You do not want them to fall.
- Does the patient know where you are going and when you will be back? “Oh, that’s the doorbell; you sit right where you are and I’ll go see if that’s your home health nurse at the door. I will be right back.” Or, “I’m going to check on the dish in the oven to see if dinner is ready. Then, I will be right back to help you go to the table.”
- Did they hear you and see you leave the room when you told them you were stepping out for a moment? Realize that she may have hearing or sight problems, and ask her to nod or acknowledge that you told her that you were going to the door.
- Is the cane or walker near the patient, so if the patient is capable, he can use them? Is there a mug of water or the TV remote near their reach?
- What can they do independently without your supervision? Then they can continue doing that when you step out. “Here, you can finish combing your hair, while I see what the kids want me to do.”
- What is that they should not attempt to do by themselves? If the patient is not capable of getting into a wheelchair or bathing by himself, then do not leave him alone during those tasks, even for a few minutes. Whatever the interruption, it can wait. Never risk a patient’s safety.
Monitoring for Safety
Many caregivers worry that a loved one will attempt to do something that he is not capable of doing alone while they are occupied with another duty. This is what keeps a caregiver awake at night, imagining all the ways that a loved one could get hurt while her back is turned for a moment. A caregiver must exercise constant vigilance especially while caring for a patient with dementia or other cognitive issue which can cause the patient to take risks. You may really need help to monitor your loved one while you are working around the house.
If that is your situation, then you need to consider getting some help to monitor that patient and free you to do the other tasks you must do. You might have a family member or a sitter stay with the patient during certain times of the day while you are busy. Technology can also help. A two-way communication device, a “baby monitor” which allows you to see, hear and speak from another room in the house may be what you need. Or, you may see if closing off hazards, such as putting a gate across a stair way, or locking the back door, is necessary. Installing safety equipment such as grab bars and ramps, could prevent an accident for a loved one.
Perhaps you would be interested in our article Monitoring Elderly
Now, before you go to handle more caregiving interruptions at home, I just want to say,
“Thank you for what you do every day as a caregiver!”