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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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RECOGNIZING A STROKE:

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.
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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.
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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.
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oh, my purse for an edit button:

Contractor = contraction
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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!

LadeeC
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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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Skin tags. How to naturally get rid of it. (Read it on FB) Get the cotton balls, soak it with apple cider vinegar and apply to your skin tags about 2-3 times a day, for a week or month (depending on the skin tags.) The skin tags will start to change colors, then black and fall off. I never tried it since I don't have skin tags yet.
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For those of us caregivers who are sleep deprived and grumpy, I read an unusual advice from Reader's Digest. Coffee and naps improves mood. If you combine both, they're 'magical'. I haven't tried it since I rarely take 30 minute naps just power naps of 15 minutes. Advice: Drink coffee before a 30-minute nap, and wake up happy.

I wished I knew about this on my past 2 surgeries. I had headaches from no coffee and the stress/anxiety of my upcoming surgeries.....
"If you're a caffeine drinker and must have your fix daily in the morning, a sure way to avoid the caffeine withdrawal after surgery - ask your doctor/surgeon if you can take a caffeine tablet (NoDoz or Vivarin; one tablet is equivalent to one cup of coffee) with a sip of water first thing in the morning on the day of your procedure." Don't assume to take one. Ask - just in case it might conflict with your procedure.

If you need pest control services, go ahead and ask for a discount. Even though they may work for a big company, they are authorized to reduce the price for a customer at a drop of a hat. (This is so true! My dad did this with the termite exterminator. Dad mentioned bedridden mom, etc.. and how money was tight. He got a Big discount.)
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I use the bottom cardboard box to hold and carry my dad's changing pamper supplies. I've been using these cardboard boxes (recycled from the case of nutrient milk mom used to get) for over 13 years. When the box softens from wear and tear, it has a tendency of dropping one side and spilling the contents on the floor. I've been spending months window shopping trying to find a more permanent solution...like trying out cookie sheets or cake pans. Yesterday, at Ross, I found a wooden meal tray. Bingo! I bought it and tried it out. Perfect! Except it's wood. Wood will eventually have splinters. So, today, I went back to Ross and bought the plastic meal tray. I'm able to put the Wipes refill container box in it, the box of gloves, the recycled half of the box gloves used to hold upright the lotion, etc... It works soooo much better than cardboard boxes.
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Some health tips - eating an apple a day does keep the doctor away. This works for lots of health issues - including cholesterol.

Gout? A new study does support that eating cherries as a home remedy. Eat a cup and a half a day for several days will lower their risk of a flare up by 35%. Taking it along with their gout medication cuts the risk by 75%.
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Just saw in the HLN news.. what NOT to do when trying to kill that spider:
A cigarette lighter and a can of spray paint.
Results? Burned his home and most likely killed the spider.

My dad is in the stage of constantly spilling his water - all over the side table and down to the floor. A poster here on AC said she used puppy pads. I bought those and it's perfect for all of dad's spills. The table and the floor pads soak up all that water. When I change it, it's so heavy with fluid.
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I'm reading from a website and found these tips. I don't have copper or brass but I was surprised that Ketchup can be used to do this cleaning...

Ketchup
Remove tarnish from copper and brass cookware. Squeeze ketchup onto a cloth and rub it on pots and pans. They should go back to their coppery color in minutes. Rinse with warm water and dry with a towel.

Rice
Use it to: Clean the inside of a vase or a thin-necked bottle. Fill three quarters of the vessel with warm water and add a tablespoon of uncooked rice. Cup your hand over the opening, shake vigor-ously, and rinse. (... when we did this growing up, we were told to put in dish soap also, so that when you shake it, it gets soapy inside and the rice acts like a brush, scrubbing inside with the dish soap.)

Tea
Use it to: Scour rusty garden tools. Brew a few pots of strong black tea. When cool, pour into a bucket. Soak the tools for a few hours. Wipe each one with a cloth. (Wear rubber gloves or your hands will be stained.)
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I will share my de-skunking recipe: 1 quart of peroxide and 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 teaspoon of Dawn dish liquid. It will get foamy, apply to stinky mess and then rinse. Great in the wash. Great on dogs, leaves a soft coat. You just can't store the mixture, it has to be freshly made to work.
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Yeah ... I'm familiar with the commercial brands. I was sorta hoping for a homemade version.
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the oral swabs are called toothette or dentip , a box of 250 is only $25 on Amazon. That's ten cents each. Search "oral swabs 250" and you see lots of choices.
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Oh! And our visiting home health RN gave me a tip about the perineal cleanser: really cheap men's shaving cream (unscented). Haven't tried it yet, but it makes sense.
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We have really lovely hardwood floors. Rather than use a hamper (that traps the smell of incontinence/wet clothing), I put a clear rubber bathmat on the floor to be a temporary catch spot.

We didn't have enough shelving space in the bathroom (it's TINY .. which makes for interesting maneuvering with the wheelchair, and we need to keep the floor area pretty clear). Found one of those metal/mesh, narrow 4-shelf units designed to go on the floor and hung it up on the wall, put a pretty trailing plant on the (unreachable) top shelf, and now it's got all our small bathroom supplies in a neat out-of-the way space.
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meh: non-dissolving foam .. like sponge. (Which just gave me thought I'll have experiment with and see if it works!)
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I've seen several variations: yeah, long enough that the stem/handle can reach into the mouth; the swabbing end is some kind of non-dissolving foam, that may or may not be pre-saturated with something like ingestible mouthwash. They're most typically used for oral cleansing or hydration. They work well as an alternate for oral hygiene. Most of the premade ones are expensive.
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I don't know what they are. Like a big q-tip? What do you use them for?
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Another thing I'd love to find is a good alternative to (expensive) mouth swabs.
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Yes! She would hate the "hospital look".
I keep her diapers in a pretty gift bag (3 for $1 at the $1 store.), on a low shelf by the toilet.
I also use gift bags at all her "spots" that she sits to read or play solitaire. They are great for all her dirty tissues and cough drop wrappers, that used to be everywhere. I line them with cheap lunch bags, and they last a long time.
She can't walk the yard to see the gardens, so I make sure to make her small arrangements of fresh flowers in a different room each day. (Herbs for the Kitchen).
The little things mean a lot.
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What a great thread LadeeC.... will have to think of some things I do or that others have done.... Like the lotion idea, am going to try that one ASAP.... this is great, thanks for doing this..... hugs, from the other Ladee
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The thing is .. it's nice to find ways to keep it feeling like home .. instead of a medical institution, right?
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Loved the idea of the sewing box. Makes me consider some other alternatives, like that tallboy jewelry boxes. Hmmmm...
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LadeeC, I have already filled the decorative tissue holder with rubber gloves. Mom loved that idea!
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