Community Blog

Caregiver Tips - North American Occupational Safety and Health Week

By Michael Hagman, RN, BSN

Caregivers in Helena MT

May 1 through 7 is North American Occupational Safety and Health Week. Though the true intention of this health observance is for people to learn how to protect their health and safety in their work environments, it is also a good time for you to evaluate your role as a caregiver and ensure that you are doing what you need to do to stay safe and healthy. Being a family caregiver can pose some risks, but if you are aware of the risks and take steps to avoid and resolve them, you can stay safe, healthy, and effective throughout your caregiver journey.

Use these tips to help you find ways to stay safe and healthy during North American Occupational Safety and Health Week:

• Practice germ control. Germ control is not just about taking care of your elderly loved one. Practicing aggressive germ control is also about making sure that you stay healthy as well. Make sure that you are taking steps during all of your care tasks to prevent spreading of any germs or infections that your loved one may have to you. This includes basic illnesses such as cold and flu, skin infections, and even fungal infections such as nail fungus. Wear gloves and a mask when necessary, and carefully wash your hands and use hand sanitizer before and after all care tasks that bring you into contact with your loved one.

• Ensure safe home conditions. A safe home environment is critical to preventing illness and injury throughout your care relationship. Make sure that the home has proper safety measures including smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers, as well as security measures including an effective locking system. Home safety is also about the structural integrity of the home itself. There should not be loose floor boards, improperly installed handrails, or other such hazards that could put you at risk.

• Determine your personal readiness. Much of the health and safety of a caregiver comes from that caregiver's own preparedness for the experience. This means that you should honestly evaluate yourself and your abilities to determine if you are really safe. Take the time this week to evaluate your parent's true care needs with what you are realistically able to offer. You may also want to look into the future and consider if there may be progressive needs that will require further assistance later that you may not be able to fully offer. This could be that your parent may need additional transferring help, assistance with bathing or toileting, or full-time care. If you are not in the position to fulfill these needs safely, you could be putting yourself at serious risk by not addressing your limitations. You may need to improve your own physical health and condition, increase your strength and balance, or lose weight and get more flexible. It may also mean that you are simply not able to handle all of these tasks yourself and may need to seek out help from a home care provider for certain tasks.

If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring help for family caregivers in Helena, MT, contact the caring staff at Home Helpers. Call today (406) 438 - 2231.