A Nurse In Your Pocket Series
1. Stock up on supplies (minimum 4 week supply)
Food essentials, water & toiletries- Short terms foods, such as fruit and fresh vegetables are nice, but it is essential to stock up on long term foods, such as frozen vegetables and even longer term foods, such as canned goods. If your loved one is on a special diet try to ensure the canned goods and dry foods are consistent within the dietary requirements. Always remember, that the first 5 ingredients listed on the ingredients list usually coincides with the amounts of those ingredients within the contents. Also, do not forget to get enough drinking water to last throughout the lockdown period.
Medications — Contact your loved ones primary doctor to request an 8 week supply of current medications. Understand that pain medications will not usually be ordered in abundance and it’s not generally something that you would want to keep around the home in large quantities, especially in homes with young children or around anyone who may have an addiction. Also, do not forget to call your own doctor to request an 8 week supply of medications for yourself. Afterall, the last thing you want to do is be forced to figure out how to transfer your loved one or yourself to a doctor’s office for an appointment at this time.
Medical Supplies — Round up 6–8 weeks of your loved ones medical supplies, such as diapers, tube feeding, wound care supplies and lotions. If there is a home care agency visiting your home, contact them to request extra supplies. The home care agency should be able to deliver supplies directly to you and offer direction for items that are not covered by the service.
If your loved one is bedridden or total care, request a foam wedge to promote comfort, assist with turning and to help prevent bed sores. Also, regardless of whether your loved one has bed sores or not, request an “egg crate” mattress, which can be purchased from a store such as Wal-mart, Target or supplied by home care agencies. These foam mattresses are placed on top of the regular mattress, they promote comfort and help to prevent bed sores. It is especially important for patients who do not have high concentration of body fat, such as thin or emaciated patients.
Oxygen supplies — For patients who are dependent on oxygen, contact your DME (Durable Medical Equipment) suppliers to request extra tubing, which should be changed every two weeks or any time the patient has a respiratory infection, such as a cold.
Resources — Getting your resources in order are essential at this time. Make sure you have quick access to emergency numbers, such as the local fire department, pharmacy and your loved ones doctor. Also, contact anyone that assists in the care of your loved one to discuss the present #Covid-19 situation. It’s vital that you inquire about their routines during this outbreak. It’s not that you want to control their lives, but you do need to understand whether or not their mechanisms for protection during this time are at least similar to yours. If it is not, you may have to try to tap into other resources to help with your loved one during this crucial time. Although help is extremely valuable, it’s important that anyone allowed to care for your loved one does not increase the risk to Covid-19 for you or your loved one or anyone else who happens to reside in your home.
2. Take necessary precautions for trips outside of the home.
Follow the basic rules, such as maintaining 6 foot distance from others at all times. Wash hands with soap and water, interlacing fingers, cleaning under nail beds as soon as you can when in direct contact with unfamiliar surfaces. This doesn’t mean every minute, what it means is as soon as you can get an opportunity after touching unfamiliar surfaces. It is important to remember that germs, including this virus, are not visible by the naked eye. So, even if a surface looks clean, it is important to take precautions.
If you have access to gloves, wear them while outside of the home and shed them every time you transition to the familiar. For example, if you have to get something from the store, don your gloves when exiting your vehicle and remove them prior to re entry to your vehicle. After all, you don’t want to keep them on and contaminate your steering wheel with whatever you may have come into contact with. One of the primary modes of this virus’s transmission is touching the face. Try to implement the practice of avoiding facial touching whether hands are clean or not clean. This practice will help you not to forget and keep you out of harms way.
3. Wipe All packages and commonly touched items down.
Use an appropriate cleanser to wipe down surfaces that are touched often within your homes, such as doorknobs, table tops, counters, toilet handles, etc. Also, wipe the exterior of every package that enters the home from this point on. Whether it is food containers, medical supplies (wipe the boxes that it is encased in), medicine bottles, etc. There are reports that this virus can live on surfaces for hours to 3 days or more. There is evidently much uncertainty to the specifics of the longevity of this virus. Therefore, it is important to proceed with caution to ensure that your family is safe. It is definitely alot more work, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
Note: Do not spray cleansers near someone who is ill, debilitated or very young.
According to the American Chemistry Council, the link below is a list of all products that are effective in killing Covid-19, also known as the CoronaVirus.
4. Enjoy your family time.
Remember, the saying “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. This is a tough situation for everyone, but it is also no one else’s fault. Unfortunately, this is the situation we are currently living in, so make the most of it. Enjoy your time with your loved one. This is a rare opportunity to spend more time watching movies, playing dominos or whatever your family likes to do in your downtime. The opportunity to have more family involvement may never present again, so take advantage of it.
5. Relax and take care of you…
Your role as caregiver is vital, it’s pivotal, it is one of the most important that exist. Therefore, you must take care of you!! As a #caregiver your role is super demanding, it takes an amazing amount of time and energy, but I am sure you wouldn’t change it for the world; and believe it or not, your loved one appreciates you, too. As great as you may be in this caregiving role, you can not allow yourself to forget about you!!.
Do not allow stress about things that you can not change overwhelm you. Stress has amazingly harsh effects on the body. Offering yourself much needed attention consistently will allow you to have your own space and solitude. Schedule at least 30 minutes to an hour every day for you, to do whatever relaxes you. Try to incorporate any past time that has positive effects on the body, such as bubble baths, meditation or exercise. Not taking necessary time for your needs will put you at risk for caregiver burnout and serious health issues of your own.
Kristal Glover-Wing RN-BSN, Owned and operated a healthcare company for 20 years.
Author - The Caregiver’s Bible (a self help book for caregivers) @ www.thecaregiversbible.com