Caring for caregivers

Caring for a child with special needs involves a variety of challenges. Often, people recognize the emotional and financial toll that it can take, but few realize the physical challenges for caregivers.

Publix volunteer at Tucker's House during the 2016 Days of Caring.

A typical day involves bending, lifting and carrying the children, their orthotic devices, therapy equipment and wheelchairs in and out of cars, vans and homes. There also may be transfers from the wheelchair in and out of the tub, the bed and the feeding chair, or on and off the toilet.

On average, caregivers of a child with disabilities will lift and transfer their child between 5,000 and 8,000 times per year, putting the caregiver at high risk for injuries to their back, shoulders and other joints.

Additional challenges arise when the child with special needs outgrows his or her caregiver, as was the case with one particular 21-year-old young man with autism.

He was a large young man and very strong, and he doesn’t know his own strength. When he was upset, or frustrated, he had a tendency to throw things. He was not very coordinated so bathing him in a smaller shower unit with a glass shower door was not safe for him and was difficult for his mom, his primary caregiver, to manage.

Tucker’s House, one of our health partners, visited this young man’s home to see if they could make any remodels to help make his environment safer for him and his mom.

Tucker’s House demolished the existing shower unit and installed a larger shower unit with no glass door that is also curbless.

Their work was not limited to the bathroom, though. In other rooms, they also covered the window with Plexiglass so that he could not break the window and built the TV and computer monitor into the wall behind Plexiglass so he couldn’t break the TV or monitor since he had broken many TV’s and monitors.

They also built a desk and bolted it to the floor and a stool that is also bolted to the floor so he couldn’t pick up the table and chair and throw them. They hung a hammock from the ceiling so he could sit in the hammock to soothe him.

So many challenges and needs in a community are not immediately obvious, but when you join us in mobilizing the caring power of the community, you improve lives.

Dec 5, 2017 | Health

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