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Caring for your loved one can be a rewarding, yet difficult experience. You show love and compassion by making your loved one’s everyday life easier. You selflessly take care of their day-to-day needs, and your giving heart puts a smile on their face. But, we all know pouring from an empty cup is not productive. We recently set out to discover ways to make the caregiving experience easier and less complicated for you. We spoke with a few experts and gathered useful tips to help you more efficiently navigate the world of caregiving.

Take Away the Meal Prep
Marian Gosling, coordinator of home delivered meals at Senior Care Experts (SCE), gave us all the details on its convenient meal delivery service that can certainly make your caregiving experience easier. SCE offers a seamless meal delivery program that is cost-efficient and delicious. For a $7/meal fee, meals are prepared by the experienced chefs on the Masonic Homes campus and are then delivered to your loved one’s doorstep. Menus are overseen by a dietician and include a wide variety of options. Since delivery is limited to weekdays only, your loved one can receive frozen meals on Fridays so that they have access to healthy, delicious meals over the weekend. 

Wondering how to sign up for this service? It’s easy. You’ll submit a short packet that covers your loved one’s food allergies, emergency contacts, pay a $100 deposit, and submit payment information. SCE recommends enrolling in automatic debit to avoid fees, but they also accept credit cards or you can pay at the end of each month by check. 

Meals are delivered between 10am and 12:30pm, and can be left in a cooler or on the doorstep if no one is home at the time of delivery. 

Play Some Games
Yahtzee, Uno, Memory Game, a deck of cards, and a children’s coloring book — these are all great items to keep in your arsenal of games and activities to play with your loved one.

“Live in their world. Don’t make them live in yours,” said Cindy Caple, who was the primary caregiver for her mother. Cindy stressed the importance of playing games their way and letting them make the rules. “If she didn’t do it correctly, that’s OK. We always let her win,” she says.

Cindy’s mom enjoyed activities like sorting a deck of cards by face and painting children’s coloring book pages. “Just a few days before she passed, she was playing my grandkids’ Memory Game,” Cindy says. 

Cindy also discovered a website specifically geared toward activities that help to engage people, even those with some dementia. Jigsaw puzzles, matching games, word games, and other activities can be found at keepingbusy.com.

Buy Adaptive Equipment
Dan Heins, director of IT at Humana Inc. and chairman of the board at Parkinson Support Center of Kentuckiana, says a combination wheelchair and transport chair provides convenience for a caregiver whose loved one has mobility issues. “It’s a regular wheelchair that can be converted to a transport chair with big wheels that can be easily removed. The lighter weight transport chair is so much easier to store in the back of your vehicle, and it’s sturdy enough to handle most patients.” A lightweight transport chair can be purchased through Amazon. 

If your loved one is suffering from severe arthritis in the knees and hips and standing up from a seated position has become virtually impossible, consider a lift chair. A lift chair is a basic recliner that uses machine power to raise the seat to an upright position, assisting in the painful, unsteady dance of upright mobility. 

For medical necessities, lift chairs are sometimes covered by Medicare, so check with your physician to see if your loved one qualifies. Lift chairs are also available for rental if the condition is temporary. Locally, chairs can be rented at Gould’s Discount Medical.    

Kayla Cook, RN, owner of Caring Excellence Personalized Home Care, says caregivers can use a cloth gait belt to help an older loved one out of bed. She says, “The caregiver stands in front of their loved one with legs in a wide stance, knees bent and back straight to prevent caregiver injury. The gait belt is very helpful and prevents painful pulling on loved ones’ arms and skin tears.” She recommends, though, that a loved one sit for 3-5 minutes at the side of the bed before standing up to normalize blood pressure and prevent dizziness. Non-skid slippers or shoes are a must.  

Ask for Help
Caregivers can order groceries for their loved one to be picked up or delivered to the home. Lynn Welch, director of business development for Home Instead Senior Care, says respite care is another option caregivers can use to alleviate stress — whether they are using a home health agency or requesting help from friends and family. “Take a break for a day or even a week of vacation and while you’re away, stay away. Talk about different things, read a book, take naps, whatever relaxes you and makes you happy. Do things that make you feel good so that you can provide great care for your loved one,” she says.

P.S. When your parent needs help. 

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