Caring for the invalid

ON THE way home you may call on an invalid who is on the club’s books. One of the good things all neighbourly clubs do is to help look after the welfare of local invalids. Visits relieve a patient’s loneliness and a spare half-hour sitting with an invalid will let an attendant get out for a walk. You may just be handing in some garden flowers or fruit, but. What- ever the service, it is the remembrance that cheers up the invalid.

Each of us at some time has an invalid to care for. We can do much to help recovery and make the time spent in the sick room more pleasant if we try to see the room from the patient’s point of view.

Remove depressing pictures from the walls. Instead, have pictures of springtime, landscape scenes, and the happy faces of laughing children – all things to suggest the joy of living.

Don’t put long-stemmed flowers in squat-shaped vases – too often the invalid lies and looks at the wilting stems. Moreover, the blooms on long-stemmed flowers are above the vision of the patient lying in bed when the vase is on a bedside locker. How much more appreciated would be the tight posy of wild flowers in an attractive little flower-holder that could be treasured after the padent is better.

Put a table close to the bedside; then the patient can have all requirements close at hand, knowing he or she is not being a nuisance to a busy attendant.

You can suggest health to an invalid by the very way you arrange and decorate the room. See to it that the invalid cannot view herself in a room mirror when she is not too well. But as soon as she begins to get better bring a mirror into the room – and watch her begin to titivate herself.

Remember an extra chair for visitors – and change the arrangement of the decorative odds and ends in the room daily.

Don’t forget a handy waste-paper basket and a few extra cushions. Make a notice for the door, to read: ‘Quiet, please; patient is asleep,’ and one for the front door: ‘One ring only, please; illness in the home.’

Have the medicine cupboard on a small table just outside the door. Put phis in the corks of poison bottles and stock the medicine cupboard with iodine, bandages, cotton-wool, thermometer, inch-tape, gauze, scissors, safety pins, aspirins and glycerine.

Glycerine has many uses; a little rubbed on chapped lips will soothe them, and on the hands will protect the skin, while glycerine and rose-water is a wonderful hand-softener. For a severe fit of coughing, one teaspoonful of glycerine in a little warm water will bring relief.

The medical cupboard should also contain a first-aid book and the phone numbers of the chemist and doctor. Keep a jug of water and a torch on the table, and a few towels and soap for the doctor and nurse.

Don’t forget to have two covers for the hot-water bottle. A bedpan, a drinking cup and a piece of rubber sheeting are handy things to have when there is a family to look after. Keep special crockery for the invalid. An ironing board supported each side of the bed on chairs will make a fine sick-room bed-table.

For a woman invalid a pretty bed-jacket and a pretty bed-quilt and cushions help morale. Give a sick girl a present of a pretty jacket, hair ribbons, bookends. Give a boy a clock or a puzzle.

See that children have a play-table and let them build, play with soldiers, or cut out paper dolls, boats and doilies. Don’t let the time pass slowly for children or they get fretful and irritable. See that there is a reward for a young child each time he or she takes some medicine.

If anyone is ill and away from their home-town the best things to send are local papers, magazines, pyjamas, sweets, and a cheery card every day.

Don’t forget to keep a family medical book. In the book record all family illnesses, symptoms, dates, duration of illness and all inoculations. These facts are often needed in a person’s life.