Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate: Dr. Cynthia Speaks!
Topic: Caregivers: Paying Attention Too Late May Be Costly.
Have you heard the saying “Hindsight is 20/20? The use of the term is associated with decisions and choices (or the lack of) that seemed obvious after looking back and revisiting an unsettling outcome. It is the voice in our head that shares how we could have predetermined a situation or consequence. The more you pay attention as a caregiver, the more you will heighten your awareness and revamp your daily movements necessary to continue to accomplish your obligations. Paying attention requires an intentional action of self-awareness; but realize, one second or one minute can change everything.
In the caregiver space, we care for our loved ones. We never want to purposefully inflict harm or injury by our actions. Securing what we know and when to use it, must be encoded into our daily mission of providing compassionate care. This is not to say when we do everything right and something happens, that our most authentic objectives were not genuine.
As Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, my passion and goal are to educate and inform so that forethought is the first cognitive behavior versus the last. As humans, we know we are not perfect. Let us start there! But I do believe that whatever profession or career we decide upon, we should never work a day in our lives. The current pandemic has shown us the love of a profession. In the midst of everything going on, giving our all should always be our daily aspiration. Why? Because others are counting on us to provide care like none other. Remember, if our loved ones could, they would!
The Avoidance of Hindsight 20/20?
To sidestep Hindsight 20/20, what are some things we can do as caregivers to limit harm or injury? Let us talk about the skin. This is a major area that should be on your radar as a caregiver. The skin of our elderly is very fragile. Because the skin is the largest organ outside of the body, it trumps the most attention. Visual inspection of our care recipient’s skin can give you a lot of information. From poor perfusion, nutritional deficiency, dehydration, to cancerous lesions. A real occurrence in the elderly is decubitis’ (also called pressure sores). They occur over bony areas, like the tail bone, elbows, hip bones(due to side-lying), and heels. These are the most universally seen areas where pressure sores develop and are quite preventable if the right care is provided. If your loved one uses a wheelchair or is bedridden, please pay attention to their skin. Once bedsores happen, it can sometimes become very hard to heal, especially if incontinence is a problem. There are four stages of pressure sores with unique characteristics. We won’t discuss them, but I wanted you to know that if you have seen a difference in the areas I mentioned, seek medical attention to avoid the latter stages which are challenging to treat and heal.
In order to not deal with hindsight 20/20, have your loved one move about, changing positions often. If bedbound, you have to change their position for them. In nursing, we use the every two-hour window. If indwelling foleys are used, use your nose and eyes to assess for leaks, while you maintain clean perineum(bottom). Use cushions in chairs, on elbows, heel protectors, and bed pillows to help with skin protection. There are different cushions for you to select. Keep in mind comfort in the selection of support cushions…water-filled, foam, and gel are options. I have used them all. Skincare is an important responsibility in the caregiving space. Keeping skin intact is your role and responsibility. As Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, I know you will do your best! Caregivers, You ROCK.