"One person caring about another represents life's greatest value." - Jim Rohn
Caregiving is a tough job. For many years, I was one of the 43.5 million unpaid caregivers in the U.S. And like many middle-aged women I was caring for my mom. First, let me say, that although this was the most challenging job I ever had, it was also the most rewarding. Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing. Except, perhaps, taking advantage of the things I learned along the way and the helpful tools that are now available. Because caregivers need all the help they can get!
Tools of the Trade
There are many “tools” designed to help people age in place and assist their caregivers. Most people are familiar with common devices, such as raised toilet seats, shower grab bars, tub seats, and walkers. There are even handy tools to help people put on their socks, open drawers, and pick things up from the floor without bending. These devices can help someone stay independent longer and assist their caregivers with the activities of daily living.
But here’s a tool that you may not know about – the PhysioBoard. I wish it had been developed when I was caring for my mom, but it’s a new product. It was designed by a physical therapist and an engineer to help people continue to exercise and stretch without getting down and up from the floor. Let me tell you from personal experience how important this is!
Exercise Equals Independence and Mobility
My mom had her hip replaced when she was 76. The surgery was successful, but she needed to spend six weeks at a rehabilitation center to get back on her feet. Because she had other health issues, I was concerned that she wouldn’t recover fully, but the rehab she received was nothing short of miraculous. I will be forever grateful for the physical therapists who worked with her every day with kindness, compassion, and expertise. When she left the center, she was walking on her own without pain or the assistance of a cane!
However, after a few weeks at home, she began to lose all the progress she made. You see, in order to keep muscles strong and flexible, you must continue to exercise and stretch at home - especially after surgery or injury. Although she wanted to exercise, my mom was not able to get down and up from the floor easily or safely. I tried my best to assist her, but it was a struggle for both of us, and eventually she got discouraged. I also tried to modify some of the moves, but some of the best exercises and stretches are done in a prone position (lying down) or on your hands and knees. It was heartbreaking to see her get weaker and begin to experience pain in her hip and back.
If the PhysioBoard was available back then, I could have helped her do her exercises effectively on her bed. This would have been easier and safer for her, and less difficult for me. Caregivers often develop back, neck and shoulder injuries from lifting and helping their loved ones with everyday tasks, so ergonomics are very important.
The PhysioBoard can be easily placed on a bed and removed for storage.
The PhysioBoard is a lightweight, yet sturdy board that transforms any bed into an effective exercise surface. And it’s easy to move and store (unlike an exercise table). In fact, my 83-year-old mother-in-law uses her PhysioBoard every day and loves it! She credits daily exercise and stretching on her PhysioBoard for keeping her active and independent, even after back surgery.
The PhysioBoard transforms your bed into an effective exercise surface. My 83-year-old mother-in-law uses hers every day!
Help Yourself and Your Loved One
If you’re taking care of an aging parent, spouse, sibling, or adult child, I understand the ups and downs you’re experiencing. It’s a labor of love, but I urge you to take advantage of any tool or resource that can make things easier for you and your loved one. When things get a bit easier and your loved one is feeling better, you'll have more time to spend together doing enjoyable activities instead of simply caregiving – and that's priceless.
For more information on the PhysioBoard, visit www.physioboard.net
To learn how to make caregiving more manageable, read The Complete Caregiver’s Organizer: Your Guide to Caring for Yourself While Caring for Others, by Robin Porter (that’s me!) – available on Amazon. This book contains tips and strategies that can bring balance back to your life while providing the best care possible to your loved one.