COMFORT MEASURES � SOME HINTS FOR CAREGIVERS
Small acts become significant and necessary when a person is dying. A joyful and caring attitude when giving care helps a patient maintain comfort and dignity. A patient doesn�t have to look like he/she is dying; the better you look the better you feel. Here are some tips for helping your loved one look and feel better:
A. Skin: Use bland soap, rinse well and dry thoroughly. Take time to make a bath more than a daily physical necessity; include a massage of the entire back using slow, gently strokes. Have a basin, two towels, cloth, lotion, powder, gown and linens at hand.
B. Hair: Women especially like to have hair washed, combed, braided, curled, and even dyed. Keep a plastic pan, garbage bags, pillows covered with plastics for under the shoulders, on hand. A comb dipped in alcohol removes oil and itch. Dry shampoo freshens. Powder brushed through the hair helps to absorb oils.
C. Nails: Soak in warm water to soften. Clean and trim to prevent scratching.
D. Clothing: Soft, light materials - - open back, yoke neck to prevent constriction, easy to change. Thin cotton or flannel is cooler and less irritating to sensitive skin. Nylon pajamas that stretch slightly may make it easier to dress a person who is immobile. For men, consider cutting pajama top down the back. Pastel colors, not �hospital white.�
E. Sheets: Same; change daily or whenever soiled. Straighten with each change of positions; one wrinkle may feel like a thick rope to the patient�s skin. A draw sheet is useful to move the patient.
A. Location: Living or bedroom for privacy but not seclusion; everyone enjoys a change of scenery, looking out a window or at pictures.
B. Privacy: Not seclusion; draw curtain, room divider; can be part of family gatherings but can also have time alone.
C. Bathroom Facilities:
1. Bedside Commode: Keep empty, clean, and fresh-smelling. Cover with cloth and decorate as table between use. After cleansing the bedside commode, place a small amount of water in the pan after each use. This will make it easier to clean after next use.
2. Bedpans/Urinals: Warm, powdered, at hand, always clean and ready for use. Fracture pan.
3. Rails in Bathroom: Support and transfer. Elevate toilet seat. Warm rug on floor, Non-slip. Privacy; attend outside door.
A. Vision: Favorite old things � pretty new things � outdoor view �flowers�birdbaths�color�favorite TV
B. Hearing Provide pleasant, soothing sounds�music, read books, wind chimes, bell or buzzer available to call someone. Eliminate irritating sounds �loud noises, doors slamming, vacuuming. Don�t talk about a person in front of him/her � talk with him/her.
C. Smell: Eliminate unpleasant odors � food, keep waste receptacle clean, dry, sprayed. Provide fresh pleasant smells, flowers, mild fragrances, sunshine-dried linens.
D. Taste: Mouth Care � Q-tip swabs with peroxide, mouthwash over ice chips. Give favorite foods even if he/she can�t eat much. Fresh fruits, vegetables, cold slush, iced malts with yogurt, vegetable juices. Use covered cup (�sippy cup�) or straw. Make food attractive, flower on tray, small portions, and napkin. Peppermint candy or gum. Don�t force food � don�t be rejected if patient can�t eat.
E. Touch: Hug, kiss, hold hands, massage gently � let the patient know he/she is still lovable even if the body is fading. IMPORTANT: Not everyone likes to be touched. Be sensitive to the patient�s needs.
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