It’s not something that’s usually brought up in conversation, but for the rookie caregiver, this topic is probably at the forefront of their minds: “How do I help my elderly loved one use the bathroom?” Here are a few steps to maintain as much of their independence as possible and make your job a lot easier.
Evaluate Their Needs
Losing any part of your independence can be incredibly hard, especially something as personal as this. Even asking for help using the bathroom might be embarrassing for your loved one. Monitor how well they’re moving around and keep track of how often they travel to the restroom. If it’s difficult for them to stand up from a sitting position, they more than likely are having trouble using the restroom. Quietly evaluate these needs and step in when necessary.
Facilitate Open Communication
After you’ve approached them about helping or they have asked for assistance, ask them how they would prefer you help. You both know what’s going to have to happen and you both know it will be uncomfortable, so talk through the entire process and exactly how you’ll provide any assistance. As you’re helping them, let them know what you’re about to do so they can be expecting your help. While communication is important, limit conversation. Nervous chatter will make them think you are uncomfortable, which is a cue for them to be uncomfortable. Once you get the hang of it, treat the process simply as a part of your normal routine, like making a meal or riding in the car.
Respect Their Privacy and Modesty
Make every effort not to stare toward private areas openly. Look at their face or the wall or off into the distance. Depending on how much assistance they need, leave the room and stand outside the door after you get them settled on the toilet, ready to give assistance as needed. If there is an accident, treat it lightly as it will more than likely cause embarrassment. If you show a hint of disgust or frustration, you will hurt their ego and cause them to resist help in the future.
This is probably the most important step to remember. Any time two people are moving together, there is a risk of injury, so always move with precaution. While assisting them in the restroom, encourage them to move on their own as much as possible to reduce the chance of injury for both of you. You’re mostly there for balance support. Never lift your senior outright or ask them to pull on you. Hold on to their trunk and hips to keep them stable. Don’t pull their arms or legs, that could injure fragile extremities or throw them off-balance. Always bend your knees when supporting them as they lower or raise themselves. If you bend at the waist, you risk injuring your back.
We’re here for you.
Helping your elderly loved one safely go to the bathroom is just one of the many tasks required of a caregiver that may seem beyond your skill level. At Choice Home Care, support services are available from 4 hours a day all the way to 24-hour support to fit your needs. Let our experienced team provide support through personalized care plans. Contact us today to get started.