By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. -Benjamin Franklin
Ok Ben, that was harsh.
Caregiving is like a marathon. But you show up to the marathon without shoes, socks, on an empty stomach, and with no signs telling you where the course is. At least, that has been my experience at times throughout this journey. So many stages hit us hard, with little time to plan. But other changes would have been much more manageable had we been a little bit prepared.
Here is a short list of items I wish we had known to buy sooner, to save quite a few needless headaches:
1. Dropcam (or any kind of “nanny-cam” you can access from your smartphone)
A couple of years into her disease, my mom began to have a lot of trouble falling and staying asleep. She would get up in the middle of the night, put clothes on, rummage around, etc. We would all sort of take turns getting up when we heard her making noise (she was in her own room at this point because it seemed she was more comfortable that way), and see what she was up to and help her back to bed. I had the idea to get a baby-monitor type of setup so that instead of having to get up every time we heard a noise, we could check the app on our phone to see if she was really up and if we needed to go into her room. It has proven even more invaluable these days, as we watch her in the mornings for the first sign of her waking up to rush her to the bathroom. If we wait too long after she wakes up to get her out of bed, it usually means we will have to deal with a bigger accident.
2. Waterproof mattress pad
(Needs no explanation.)
3. Cups with lids
We use these on and off (see what I did there?), depending on what ‘phase’ my mother is in. Sometimes, she will get into a pattern of picking up her drink and just dumping it out — onto the table, the floor, her food, really, anywhere. When these habits flare-up, we take to the cups with lids and it at least gives us a bit of time to rush over before she can unscrew the top and pour out the contents. Makes all of our lives a bit easier.
4. Safety knob on the gas for our cooking range
An easy-to-turn knob just out of sight that turns on/off the gas to our stove and range. She will often mess with the knobs on the stove. We sleep better at night because of this helpful gadget.
5. Pill crusher
Why oh why didn’t we get this little guy sooner? For so many months we kept trying to get her to swallow her pills with water. She refused, spit them out, was so confused, and it left all parties with a massive headache. Enter pill crusher and chocolate pudding. Enter happiness.
My first experience with a bidet was in France, in a hotel room on a family vacation. I was eight, I think. I thought it was a drinking fountain just for kids. I vividly remember yelling out, “Hey, a drinking fountain just for kids!” My parents couldn’t rush into the bathroom in time to save me from myself. (True story, I drank out of the bidet). What sheltered American lives we lead! In all seriousness, the bidet has been a huge help in cleaning after toileting. It took some work and $ to get the thing installed but it has been worth every penny.
7. Shower chair
Pretty self-explanatory but an absolute must for showering your loved one. They relax, you relax (kind of). Way safer and better than having them stand. The Physical Therapist in me cringes to remember when we didn’t use this.
8. Doorknob covers (grip n twist)
These have been so incredibly helpful for us. I especially feel much more at ease having these on all the doors that lead to the exterior of the house (in addition to other locks). They are helpful on any doors to rooms or closets where you would rather your loved one not be rummaging around or especially if there is something unsafe in the room.
Any others? Feel free to comment.