As your loved ones and care recipients become dependent on you, as a caregiver, remember this important truth…if they could, they would! If we were honest, no one wants to be a fish in a bowl, depending on others for their daily existence. We want control of our lives. However, as we age, we may find ourselves fish in bowls; inside looking out, wondering when, what time, or even how long before meals, bath, medications, transportation to medical appointments and so much more. I am sure, if you could, you would! But the bigger question is…What sincerity would you want from a caregiver? How would you want the people and world around you to care for you? I am sure we all want confidence, passion, assurance, honor and duty.
I read a dishearten comment from a caregiver the other day that gave me pause and the focus of this conversation. The comment centered on a care recipient with bad odors. You know the odors we all have ourselves. Bad breath, musty arm pits, musky smells under body flaps, or even the bodily elimination smells, and for many, assistance is necessary because of the inability to control body functions. This should not be a conversation! If offensive odors are problematic, there are ways to handle the situation instead of having a conversation that might be construed as hurtful or distasteful.
Let me start by stating body odors are a normal part of life. It happens when bacteria and sweat mix. Some body odors can alert you to health or medical problems. Some medical conditions change how much or little a individuals’ sweats. In older adults, monitoring their hydration and skin is vital. Both can cause concerning odors. See a doctor to identify conditions that may be concerning or persistent. Stay vigilant.
Things you can do!
· Good old soap and water does the trick every time. Sometimes you must address the most significant odors first. It is usually elimination accidents. This also means getting clean water, wash clothes, and towels as you continue with bath time.
· How about wearing a mask? This is also another great way to avoid smells and you could put your favorite scent under your nose in the mask.
· Lighting a candle ahead of time is another helpful way to change room odors.
· Open windows. Fresh air is wonderful.
· Vanilla extract on a cool light bulb before helping seniors is a nice way to decrease smells.
These are a few nuggets to help with odors when caring for our most important population. Never make them feel you caring for them is a chore or burden. Trust me, they already feel that way. Personal experience. My mommy would say from time today she felt like a burden. This was far from the truth. As Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, please care with love and compassion. It might be you one day.