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Caring for Someone With HIV or AIDS

(continued)

Tips for AIDS Caregivers continued...

Keep them involved. Don’t try to do everything for your loved one or make all of the decisions. Your loved one may have lost control over many aspects of life. Allow them to make decisions and control things he or she can. Have your loved one help around the house if he or she is able. Include them in family discussions about books, TV shows, current events, weekend plans, or even menu planning.

Encourage good nutrition. Do your best to provide the person with a well-balanced diet including plenty of nutrients, fiber, and fluids. Encourage your loved one to eat as much as he or she is able. Preparing food for a person with AIDS requires a little extra care. It is important to keep hands, cooking utensils, and food preparation surfaces clean. It is also important to wash fresh fruits and vegetables well, cook or peel organic vegetables, cook meats and poultry well, and avoid uncooked seafood and raw eggs. If nausea and/or vomiting is a problem, ask the doctor for a medication that can help, and avoid fatty, fried, or spicy foods.

Protect against infections. An infection that would make you mildly ill, if at all, could be serious or even fatal for a person with AIDS. To avoid spreading infections, wash hands often, keep your immunizations up to date, don’t allow visits from friends or family members who are sick, and keep the home and laundry clean. Also protect yourself from infection by not sharing personal items such as tweezers or razors and by using rubber gloves if you will have contact with bodily fluids or wastes.

Keep the person with AIDS active. Help the person stay up and active as long as possible. If your loved one spends most of the time in bed, help him or her do exercises in bed. A doctor, nurse, or physical therapist can teach you simple arm, leg, hand, and foot exercises that promote circulation and reduce joint stiffness.

Prevent bed sores. Spending time in one position can lead to problems like bed sores, stiff joints, and pneumonia. If the person has to spend most of the time in bed, be sure to help him or her change position often. If possible, get your loved one out of bed part of the day. A nurse can show you how to move someone from a bed to a chair safely. To keep the skin healthy, put soft material such as sheepskin or egg crate foam mattress under them and keep sheets dry. Massage the back and other parts of the body that press down on the bed. If you notice any redness or broken areas on the skin, let your loved one’s doctor or nurse know right away.

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