Monday, December 10, 2007

Caring For Aging Parents: Watch Your Back!

If you're a caregiver, you have to watch your back!
Literally, I mean. The first thing to give me trouble
was my back. Now my mother was not a heavy
woman by any means. And over the years, she
became even tinier! (I could use some shrinkage

Some people may only think of your back giving
out if you're a caregiver for someone who is
bedridden. And you're lifting all the time. Not so!

We don't stop and think about what we actually
do everyday and how it can affect our backs.

For one example, if you care for someone with
balance problems. Funny. The one thing I miss
not having Mom anymore is I seem lopsided!

Whenever we went outside she had a firm grip
on my arm. Many times I had my arm around her.
She was my sidekick!

Think of the side and back strain you acquire after
years of leaning in that direction! Thank heavens
for wheelchairs and rollators!

Bathing is another concern. Before we used a
shower chair, I'd be helping her in and out of the
tub. You're so worried about them slipping, you
push your back beyond what you would do for
anyone or anything else.

It doesn't help when you're told to bend at the
knees when you are leaning over the bathtub.
Bend at your knees at the wrong time and the
care receiver goes flying. Or dunking.

All activities play havoc on your back. You won't
notice it right away but if you become laid up---
what then?

I know it's easier said than done but a caregiver
MUST take good care of themselves. Even a rush
job is better than nothing.

I found stretching to help. It sounds too simple but
it works. Especially if it's the lower back that's
killing you.

Lay on your right side at the edge of your bed. Bring
your left leg up, knee bent and pull it toward you.
Really s-t-r-e-t-c-h. This is why you're at the very
edge of the bed. As you pull your leg toward you, it
will be off the side of the bed to get the best stretch.

Repeat on other side. I don't think I've explained this
very well. You should feel a loosening in the lower
back tension. You will look like a pretzel. You may
fall to the floor at first but it helps.

Any stretching will help. If you don't have the
time to do much of anything else, that is.

(Now if only I could draw!)

Back to the bathing part again. We would have
totally been lost without the shower chair and
the long-hosed, hand-held shower! A true
lifesaver in our day to day life.

And don't forget the tub supports. You can
find all kinds. The one I used was easily installed
(by me!) and was sturdy beyond belief. It clamped
over the side of the tub and was screwed in place
by a large PVC knob.

So, if any "other people" tell you to just
bend at the knees, tell them to "BACK OFF!".
You don't want to mess with a caregiver!