Providing Physical Care
Part of care-giving is providing physical care to your family member or friend. It is important to receive appropriate training to provide physical care. Ask your family member or friend's doctor, nurses, and other health professionals about the types of care that may be required of you.
To help you and your family and friend’s health care providers, we suggest keeping a log of your loved one’s medications and reactions to them, their responses to physical therapy and treatments, as well as all physical symptoms such as pain or tiredness.
Questions about physical care:
How can I protect my back while lifting and moving a patient?
- If possible, have someone help you with the morning and bedtime routines. These are the times your family member or friend may need a lot of assistance, since getting up and going to bed are often the most challenging times of the day.
How should I care about oral (mouth) hygiene?
- Practice good oral hygiene that includes teeth brushing, denture cleaning, and cleaning around the gums, preferably after every meal.
- Persons with disabilities or medical problems may need special care in addition to daily hygiene routines.
What are the results of poor hygiene?
- If your family member or friend is incontinent, it is especially important to ensure that he or she is clean at all times, to use protective (barrier) creams, and to change incontinence aids and clothing as often as needed. Poor hygiene can result in diaper rash and blistering of the skin.
- Poor hygiene also can contribute to the development of decubitus ulcers (pressure sores) and other problems that cause pain, discomfort and serious, even life-threatening infections.
What should be done to patients who stay in bed for long periods of time?
- Older people or patients with limited movement should be turned in bed on a regular basis to prevent pressure sores.
- Correct bedding, such as sheepskin or egg carton bed coverings and/or an air mattress, help to prevent pressure sores.
- It is important to move patients with disabilities at least once an hour, to reposition them, to do range of motion exercises, and to have them sit in various chairs that offer sufficient support