Caring for a loved one can bring a whole new set of responsibilities and stress, especially if your loved one is dependent on you for assistance with his/her daily needs. Throughout my years of working in the field of Geriatrics, I've learned about various devices and supplies that can help make caregiving more manageable and potentially less stressful. Below is a brief list of some items you may want to consider to help your loved one feel more independent while also reducing the amount of stress you may be experiencing.
Medication Boxes, Reminders or Dispensers - While there are a variety of products available to help ensure your loved one takes his/her medication(s), most generally fall into three categories - pill boxes, medication reminders and medication dispensers. Pill boxes come in a variety of shapes and sizes and generally allow individuals to sort their medication(s) according to day of the week and time of day. Medication reminders can come in the form of an alarm or a service whereby individuals are contacted and reminded to take their medications. Medication dispensers allow individuals to organize and pre-set a time for medications to be dispensed. To learn more about managing your loved one's medications, click here.
Incontinence Products - Products like bladder control pads, absorbent undergarments, and protective underpads can reduce the stress and work of repeatedly washing soiled laundry. Placing underpads on your loved one's bed, chair and/or wheelchair can also save a lot of time and embarassment. Incontinence products can be purchased at a local pharmacy as well as a local Medical supply store.
Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS)- a PERS can help alleviate worry associated with falling. Generally speaking, PERS is a button that can be worn around the neck or wrist. In the event, a loved one is in need of medical attention and unable to get to a phone, a PERS allows them to contact 911 with a simple touch of a button. While prices vary, a PERS system generally entails paying for the installation of the device along with a monthly service fee. Conducting an internet search, speaking with your loved one's physician or visiting your local pharmacy are a few ways to find information about PERS.
Hearing Amplifiers - Hearing amplifiers increase the volume of what an individual is listening to. While not meant to substitue a hearing aide, amplifiers can help an individual who solely wants to amplify the sound in their environment as opposed to improving a hearing impairment. Amplifiers can be purchased for devices like a telephone and television. They can generally be purchased from local electronic stores. Before purchasing an amplifier, however, it is important to have your loved oned evaluated for hearing loss to ensure an amplifier will not cause damage.
Overall, there are many products and devices that can help reduce caregiver stress while also increasing your loved one's sense of independence and self-reliance. Do you have any recommendations on other types of products you have personally used as a family caregiver? Please comment below.
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Christine M. Valentin
As a licensed clinical social worker, I help individuals caring for a loved one reduce feelings of anxiety, depression and stress. This blog is meant to share with you, many of the suggestions I recommend to many family caregivers. Sign up to receive them directly.