Assistive technology (AT) isn’t always for the individual who happens to have a disability. AT can also be something utilized by caregivers to make life easier as well. This weeks DIY AT entry is one of those helpful life hacks for the caregiver.
Part of J’s life includes a G-tube. Due to various issues, J receives a continuous drip feed through that G-tube using an enteral pump. That means a carefully measured amount of food is pumped directly into J’s stomach at a predetermined rate over a prolonged period of time. That also means that the carefully measured amount of food must be made every day. This is where today’s low-tech AT project comes in.
Raising a child with special needs takes a significant amount of time. If that child happens to also have complex medical issues that include a number of daily medications and special dietary considerations, the daily routine can be a lengthy routine. Finding time in the day to draw medicines and make food often leads to shoehorning that routine into either the start or end of the day. Squeezing these important tasks into an already full day can result in rushing this work and making mistakes. Anything that can reduce the length of that routine and make it less error prone benefits the entire family.
How we used to measure out J’s food every night.
Here at the AT household we have found a simple solution to simplify the daily food preparation part of our routine. We simply premeasure 7 Ziploc bags of formula each Sunday night. Then during the week we take out a Ziploc and mix it with the right amount of water and vitamins. Done.
Now we premeasure a weeks worth of food into Ziploc bags. I am only showing two bags in the picture, but I believe you can imagine seven of them.
We actually came across this idea when our family went on a local summer vacation. We were only going a short distance (within driving distance of our house), but we wanted to pack everything we needed for our stay. Given all the additional equipment J needed (wheelchair, special mattress, monitors, etc…) there was limited room for packing our necessities. When it came to packing J’s formula we choose to save space (and weight) by premeasuring the formula into Ziploc bags and packing those instead of the bulky (and heavy) cans. The portion of our evening routine devoted to making J’s food went so much quicker and easier.
Now every night I simply grab a Ziploc bag and the shaker. Quick, easy, no mistakes.
After returning from that vacation we started to use it at home as well. Now Sunday evenings need a little extra time to premeasure a week’s worth of food. However, it is not as long as it may sound. You sort of get into a groove after measuring the second days worth of food. The amount of time you save over the week is noticeable, but not as noticeable as the piece of mind you get pouring a premeasured amount of food into a shaker bottle on a stressful and rushed evening. You know, one of those evenings that you second guess everything you do because you feel like you are going to make a mistake somewhere.