Thursday, January 26, 2012

Caregiving Solutions: It's the Little Things

There are big challenges in caregiving.  Making sure your caree gets the right medications, fighting with insurance companies to get these medications or necessary medical procedures, completing disability paperwork (ugh!), or finding a suitable living facility for your loved one.

It’s great when help is available for these big challenges but I have a special love for those little things that make life a little easier (aside from the obvious, like coffee and our lovable pets).

A few years ago when Robert was in a Skilled Nursing Facility, the occupational therapist changed Robert’s regular shoelaces with shoelaces that never untie. 

Oh my god, I was so happy you’d think he handed me a basket full of Starbucks gift cards (I do like my coffee).

Robert loves plain black tennis shoes.  He’s worn the same brand and style for years and years (don’t worry, he gets new shoes every now and then but they are the same style and brand – hopefully, they never discontinue that style)!  These shoes lace up and Robert had increasing difficulty bending over and having the dexterity to tie the laces. Of course, they were always coming untied (you would think the job of shoelaces would be to stay tied). 

The occupational therapist came along and, without fanfare, changed the shoelaces to what I call “magic shoelaces.”  Woohoo!  Happy dance!  Robert gets to keep the style of the shoe he likes and doesn’t have to worry about tying and untying the shoes (or having someone else tie them for him). 

It was love at first sight for Robert too and he actually became irritated with a doctor at a recent neurology visit because the doctor untied these laces without a thought.  (We got them tied back up and Robert was happy once again while the doctor apologized for his mistake once he saw how important these were to Robert). 

Another recent find that has brought just as much thrill to us: button up shirts with Velcro.  I’ve written about Robert no longer being able to button one of his sleeves.  Robert’s preference is button down shirts (pulling a t-shirt over his head is an impossible task for him) but the buttons take quite a lot of concentration and it takes him a long while to dress.  I began to wonder if bigger buttons were going to be necessary meaning my worst fear would be realized:

I would have to learn to sew!

Thankfully, I found Buck and Buck Clothing Company based in Seattle (yes, that’s free advertising!).  They make all sorts of handy clothing for the disabled and elderly but the dress shirts for men caught my eye.  Buttons on the outside; Velcro on the inside!  Bonus: they come in Robert’s favorite colors – blue and white.

Robert tried on his first new shirt last weekend and, aside from not being able to see the white Velcro on a white shirt (an easy fix with a permanent marker), he loved them!  Dressing took much less time than normal and he was even able to button both his sleeves. 

Robert declared the shirt “excellent” and I ordered him four more. 

Finding help for the little things make tackling the big things so much easier, doesn't it?

Have you found anything that is so simple yet makes such a huge impact on your or your caree’s life?  Please share in the comment section below while I keep doing my happy dance!


Kathy Lowrey said...

EXCELLENT indeed!!!
Joining in the Happy Dance!!

Full elastic jeans may be what we need in our lives. Hubby has been wearing pajama bottoms anywhere we go because zip and button are too difficult. He prefers his denim though.
The other day I ordered a couple pair of jeans with full elastic waist and button zip front, yet can stay buttoned and zipped.
He may be better satisfied with these than the pajamas.

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Oh, Kathy, I love that idea! Robert loves his jeans too (with a belt) and there may come a time when that zipper & button is too difficult. Right now, the belt gives him some trouble but I haven't quite figured my way around that yet. Let me know how the jeans work out for hubby! Love doing the happy dance! :-)