Caregiver Essentials

Lois Clouden, LCFL Director of Patient Services, provides practical tips to help those caring for a loved one at home during COVID-19.

Hi, my name is Lois Clouden.  I’m a registered nurse and director at Lower Cape Fear LifeCare in South Carolina.

One of my roles is to teach a Caregiver’s Essential class. Today, I would just like to bring you some practical hints about caregiving during this crisis.

As we all know, caregiving can be stressful under the best of circumstances. But during this time of the threat of a coronavirus it can put your stress level right through the roof. It is important to understand that if you experience burnout, it does not mean that you are a bad caregiver or that you are failing.

Many of us are working from home, which is a mixed blessing. It means that you’re available 24/7 to help, but it also means that you’re available 24/7 and can cause burn out. Just remember, the only way to care for someone else is to is to care for yourself.

Now for some helpful hints. Plan to care. By that I mean take stock of what supplies you have and what you think you’re going to need. Talk to your loved ones and your family about what you’re going to do if they become ill. Have an honest conversation about the goals of care.

Look at your supplies. Have incontinent supplies available. Even if they’re not using them now, you may find that you need them if they become ill. Have disposable chucks. Have garbage bags to put them in and have some hand sanitizer.

Look at their medications. What medications do they routinely take? Will they have enough? If they don’t, call the pharmacy to see if they can be refilled. If they can’t, call your physician before it’s an emergency. Have some medications on hand for symptom management. Have Tylenol throat lozenges. Maybe some zinc. They’re known to shorten viruses and flu. If you have medication for pain or sleeping or anxiety that they use sometimes, make sure you have enough on hand.

Food. Have food on hand that is easy to make. Think about what they like. Have finger foods, applesauce, easy to swallow foods available.

Other items that you might want to have available are Kleenex, hand soap, cleaning materials, maybe some essential oils. Rubbing essential oils into hands and feet can be very calming.

Think about what rules you want to make for people coming into your home. You may have caregivers coming in and other people during this time. If possible, have a bathroom designated for people coming into your home to wash in, and have Lysol wipes available for them. Do you want them to take their shoes off? Think about what you want for people come coming into your home, and tell them before they come in.

Lastly, be sure to remember the first thing that we discussed – in order to take care of others you have to take care of yourself.

When this is over, and it will be, we have Caregiver’s Essential classes the first Wednesday of every month in our Myrtle Beach office. It is a one-stop resource for training, and giving you the information and resources that you need to be a caregiver. We would love to see you there.