Caring for a child with cerebral palsy (CP) requires patience, understanding, and lots of effort. While there is no universal advice for caregivers and parents of children with CP, there are things you can do to become a more successful caregiver.
10 Tips for Caring for a Child with Cerebral Palsy
These 10 tips for caring for a child with cerebral palsy can get you started.
1. Get Organized
Caring for a child with cerebral palsy involves lots of moving parts, which is why organization is one of the most important steps you can take. Not only does getting (and staying) organized help to reduce the stress of caring for any child, it can help you react quickly if an emergency occurs.
On top of keeping calendars and lists with important dates and information, here are some of the things that every caregiver should keep on hand:
Doctors’ phone numbers
Lab test results
List of medications, including dosage and when and how each is administered
School contact information
2. Stay Informed
Children with cerebral palsy see several healthcare providers, from their pediatrician to their specialist to their therapist and more. While doctors keep tabs on their patients, it’s important for you to stay informed about your child’s health as well. There are instances where you will be asked to make health decisions for your child, such as participating in different types of therapy and treatment, which is why staying informed is crucial. Doctors can provide the best care possible for a child when the child’s caregiver or parent is invested, so it’s a win-win.
3. Promote an Active Lifestyle
Although your child might not be able to play at the same level as their peers, promoting an active lifestyle is still important. If your child can walk, help them move as much as possible, focusing on activities that use muscles in different ways.
Through activity, muscles grow stronger, potentially reducing the occurrence of muscle spasms and contractures. Overall, being active is beneficial for everyone, so you can feel good knowing you and your child are improving your health.
4. Incorporate Nutrient-Rich Foods
It’s important for all children to eat a diet rich in nutrients, but it is especially so when you’re caring for a child with cerebral palsy since they are more prone to weak bones. We recommend eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables (especially leafy greens like kale), lean protein, and fiber as well as food that is rich in calcium such as low-fat dairy products. Some children with cerebral palsy are unable to eat by mouth, therefore they will have a GT in their stomach for nutrition. This limits what they are able to receive nutrition wise. Making sure they still receive the required nutrients is very important. Having a GI doctor and nutritionist on board is very beneficial for this purpose.
5. Be an At-Home Therapist
Children with cerebral palsy spend time with their therapist, but therapy can continue at home if you know the correct way to help your child exercise. In doing so, you can help your child stretch their muscles and build strength and balance, all while reducing aches in between doctor visits. If going to a therapy center is difficult for you with your ever-changing schedule, you can also request that you receive in-home therapy with your therapy company.
Some children with cerebral palsy suffer from muscle spasms which can be soothed with a massage. If your child experiences muscle spasms, learning some basic massage therapy techniques can help ease their discomfort.
6. Help Them Stay Positive
Children with cerebral palsy may have limitations that other children don’t. Sometimes it’s hard for children with CP to have a positive outlook, but with your help, they can. If your child is focusing on the things they can’t do, help them focus on the things they can – and then do those things together.
7. Get Out of the House
Speaking of doing things together, it’s always a good idea to expose your child to new activities and adventures. Whether this is going to a new museum, working on a craft project together, or seeing a play, new experiences can help boost your child’s self-esteem.
Life is stressful, but it’s important for you to keep a positive outlook when you can since your attitude can influence your child’s mood. If your child shows signs of anxiety and depression, be sure to seek professional mental health care.
8. Form Bonds with Other Parents
Caring for a child with cerebral palsy can be isolating at times but getting to know other parents of children with CP can help you build a solid support system. It’s not unusual to meet other parents in the waiting rooms of doctors’ offices, but we also recommend looking to online support groups or local meet-ups.
Not only can other parents of children with CP potentially help you find other doctors and treatments, but they can really lift your spirits on the rough days.
9. Take Advantage of Resources
Caring for a child with cerebral palsy isn’t easy, but there are lots of resources available to you, many of which are free. From government programs to financial assistance to early intervention programs that provide treatments free of charge – research the resources available to you and don’t be afraid to reach out if you need help.
10. Take Care of Yourself
Last, but certainly not least, one of the most important things you can do as a caretaker for a child with cerebral palsy is to take care of yourself. Unfortunately, caregivers tend to get wrapped up in raising their children and forget the importance of their own health.
These simple, but important tips can help you take care of yourself while you’re busy taking care of others too:
Get enough sleep
Make time to relax
Manage your stress levels
Ask for help
Contact Care Options for Kids for Cerebral Palsy Home Care Services
Sometimes the duties of caring for a child with cerebral palsy are overwhelming and can put a considerable amount of strain on your family. When this happens, a change in caregiving arrangements can help reduce stress while also improving your child’s overall care. If you feel that you need assistance providing care for your child with CP, Care Options for Kids can help.
We refer loving and competent caregivers to provide customized care for families – from a few hours a day to around-the-clock care. Contact us directly to speak with a home health care professional or request a free in-home assessment. Together we can determine the best plan of action to keep loved ones happy and healthy.