Dear Hello-Ease


Remember the Hints from Heloise articles? For those who don't, she wrote articles about helpful hints and tips around the house.

Interested in starting a series on what we've each found to be the MOST helpful tips for caregiving for our loved ones? I'll start, to get the ball rolling ..

My favorite DYI tips:
.. I make a combo lotion of A&D ointment and Baby Lotion for the perineal area. Smells great and very soothing and protective from incontinence. I mix it together in a clean zip baggy, massaging the mixure while still sealed, then cut a SMALL corner off and squeeze the resulting lotion into an old hand lotion pump bottle.
.. Rather than spend a lot of money on paper products, we bought dozens of wash clothes: use once, then toss in the laundry
.. We haunt the VA thrift stores for diapers and pads, getting them for pennies on the dollar
.. After a stroke, s/he might have a hard time drinking from a glass or cup without dribbling .. for $1 each we found these great sippy cups with screw on lids, instead of using straws that like to swirl in the glass and means less spillage with the cap if accidentally tipped over. They also happen to have the body of the cup segmented so that we can measure the drink. Bought about 10 of them, and as she drinks them, I keep them lined up on the sink drainer, so I can keep track of how much she's had (her fluid intake is vital in both directions: too little and it's bad for UTIs, too much and her congestive heart suffers)
.. Bibs: two clips strung together with twine or string or ribbon, clips onto the corners of pretty, absorbent towels (size to suit the situation)
.. We use gloves for almost everything in the bath and bedroom. Got some sturdy (pretty) tissue dispensers and hung them on the wall for easy access (can either load it with the box of gloves or just stuff the dispenser with as many as it will hold)
.. for easier turning/placement in the car, place a large shopping bag over the seat .. helps with the transfer and the turning just glides. Also provides protection for the occasional incontinence.

Products/Best Investments under $20:
.. TV tray, with tiltable top, with two L-shaped legs .. fits under almost any seat. ($10 on sale)
.. toothbrushes with suckers on the handle tip. Keeps it upright on the sink, and within easy reach of a wheelchair ($3)
.. wall-mounted toothpaste and soap dispensers .. especially great for those with limited or no mobility on one side ($13~)
.. battery operated wireless doorbell .. we taped a string to the part you normally put on the door and give it to her, and place the ringer somewhere we'll always hear it. That way, if she wants or needs our attention, we're literally on call. ($18)
.. Wound care: for bedsore protection/healing, I love a 3M product called Cavilon No-Sting Barrier Film. Acts like a second skin, and is especially great for those foldy areas ($13 - $20, spray and wipes versions)
.. For incontinence protection: thin vinyl 'rubber pants' .. elastic at waist and legs that we use overnight (3 for $10)

What's your advice for:
.. I'd love a DYI no-wash perineal cleanser. Any tips?
.. How about a DYI air freshener?
.. What's your favorite tip?

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Oldest sis came home today and bought for me a $1.99 generic swifter mop. She told me that I will have to buy the refill pads. I've been meaning to buy one for months but the cost of the Swifter was just too expensive. I appreciate sis buying this for me and I told her so.

I immediately went online to search on how to make my own refill pads and cleaning solutions. I can buy at the $1.99 store (if they have any) chenille socks (? don't even know what that is, will need to google it) or the Microfiber cloth. Or I can use what's handy here in the house: old thin wash cloths, old clothes, old socks or the Bounty paper towel for the pad.

Cleaning solution that I chose, since I have it: 50% water, 50% vinegar and 2-3 drops of dish soap. Some tips said to add some alcohol to dry faster and to prevent mold from growing. Others said to add some essential oil lemon or orange...which I don't have nor plan to buy.

Dad slides down the hospital bed. Even with his help, we cannot pull him back up. No matter how many times the nurse and caregivers pull him up, by the end of the day, he has inched himself right back down. He's used to having his legs dangling off the foot of the bed. Just above the shin/ankle area is poking out.

This is now hurting his legs despite the long pillows. I remember ordering the under-the-door-draft which I haven't used yet. I put it on the foot of the bed, upside down. He likes it because it's a little more comfortable than the hard plastic foot board. I'm still trying to find an improvement on this.

My mom "recycled" all the plastic grocery bags my folks collected by making a zippered HUGE hassock-sized pillow & stuffing it with the bags. The zipper made it possible to grab a bag (or 27) to use when needed and the little grandkids loved laying on the hassock pillow on the floor to watch TV.

She also used the plastic bags to stuff throw pillows - she used a couple of these in bed under her knees - they were the right size and easy to clean...pull off the cover & replace the plastic stuffing. They were actually comfortable, too.

For those mostly lying in bed all day, my dad likes to have these round (like log-shapes) pillows under his legs. I bought 2 sizes - one is long and fatter ($6), the 2nd one is shorter and half the size of the large one($4). I prefer to put the large one under his knees and the smaller next to it. But my dad prefers both pillows where his ankles are.


A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke...totally. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within 3 hours, which is tough.

'3' steps, STR. Read and Learn!

Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:

S *Ask the individual to SMILE.

T *Ask the person to TALK and SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently)
(i.e. Chicken Soup)

R *Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.

If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call emergency number immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

NEW SIGN OF A STROKE -------- Stick out Your Tongue
Ask the person to 'stick' out his tongue.
If the tongue is 'crooked', if it goes to one side or the other that is also an indication of a stroke.

My mom used to open jar lids by running it under the hot faucet water. Then she would flip it upside down and tap the bottom of the jar and then the sides of the lid. Then twist open the lid. Tada! Except I can't seem to get the trick.

My nephew saw me struggling with the lid. He took the jar, flipped it upside down, firmly tapped the bottom, flipped it upward. Took a butter knife and slid it beneath the lid and gently widened the lid until it popped a noise. Tada! He then opened the jar.

Found a really good solution to the mouth swabs (used instead of a toothbrush) to freshen the mouth. In the infant section of those big box stores, I found different sets of silicon things: a few are mounted on handles and resemble odd shaped toothbrushes, with silicon 'bristles' .. but the best is a silicon finger cot (you can find similar ones in the pet section for 'brushing' your dog's teeth) that slip over the end of your finger, where one side has nubs and the other silicon bristles. Dip any of these in a glass of water, mixed with mouth wash and ... fresh mouth. Great for those who can't brush their own teeth well and/or fail to spit their rinse water.

oh, my purse for an edit button:

Contractor = contraction

Ooooooooh .. so glad you re-discovered this thread! I'd lost it.

Here's one I use almost daily.

I don't know about you, but my hands don't open jars like they used to. And finding one of those gizmos that ratchet on and turn it is a royal pain. Here's a quick fix that works on ANY container with a screw top you can't open:

Run the jar/container portion under COLD water, and rinse the lid in HOT water. The contractor and expansion difference between the two will ease the tension and let you open it with ease. Oh! Hallelujah!


I remember a few years ago coming across a thick volume of HITS FROM HELOISE in my wife's mothers things after her death. There was truly some amazing stuff in there. we ended up one night during the holidays having drinks and taking turns finding crazy stuff in this old book. One was like this:

"Tired of those sticky roll on deodorant screw on tops? Clean the threads on the deodorant container and apply a thin coating of Vaseline weekly to keep the annoying crud at bay!" Is this a GET A LIFE SITUATION?

"When going out into inclement weather when dressed in a long formal dress, take a large lawn and leaf garbage bag, cut out both bottom corners for your feet, pull the bag up to protect our gown from mud or slush and remove at your destination". I can just picture New York city socialites tip toeing around fith avenue in their trash bags.

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