Providing home care of an elderly loved one can be difficult for many family members, but it can certainly come with it’s own set of additional complications if the older adult is bedridden.
It can be tough to take care of a bedridden elderly person at home, especially if it’s someone who you haven’t had to take care of for a long time.
But, there are things that you can do to make it much easier for you (as the caregiver) and for your senior loved one who very much needs your help.
There are a variety of health conditions that can cause someone to become bedridden. These include injuries, strokes, and chronic illnesses such as arthritis or cancer.
Bedridden patients may also be affected by conditions that make it difficult for them to move around, such as obesity or paralysis.
Regardless of the underlying cause, it is important to provide proper care for a bedridden patient to ensure their comfort and safety.
7 Tips On How To Best Take Care Of An Elderly Bedridden Loved One
Our tips on how to care for a bedridden elderly person include the following:
Some of these are such simple things but they all go a long way in optimizing the care of a bedridden patient.
Let’s go into some details on each of these individual issues.
1. Avoiding Bedsores (aka Pressure Ulcers)
Many (if not all) elderly individuals have thinner skin – it seems to just be common problem of growing older.
As a result – it’s very easy to get skin bruises, cuts and scrapes which can possibly get infected.
But if that elderly person is bedridden, you may have a difficult time avoiding bedsores.
There are multiple issues that can cause bedsores, we’ll go over that in just a bit.
Just know that these sores can quickly become infected, so it’s important, and a very good idea to do everything possible to avoid them.
5 Reasons Why Bedsores Occur
- Staying in one position for too long which puts a lot of pressure on any one specific areas of the body.
- Being underweight means that you have less fat over bony areas of your body which can then make those areas more prone to bed sores.
- Scraping the skin against any area such as sliding off of bed, a toilet, against a chair, etc.
- Poor hydration can make the skin more susceptible as well
- Medical conditions such as diabetes, poor blood circulation, vascular diseases and others can also contribute to poor skin integrity which can make you more prone to bedsores.
- You can read more about pressure ulcers here at mayoclinic.org
The #1 recommendation to help avoid bedsores is to reposition the body every two hours.
Certainly – it’s important to understand that there’s no foolproof method to completely prevent this issue.
It’s essential for you to be aware of this, especially if you’re caring for a senior loved one who is bedridden and they develop a bedsore.
It’s crucial not to feel guilty if you are diligently following all the guidelines to try to avoid them.
2. Keep The Bed Linen Clean
Many elderly seniors who are bedridden are also using diapers and incontinence pads as well.
It’s extremely important to change diapers and incontinence pads as needed.
You want to avoid your senior loved one’s skin to stay in contact for a length of time with urine and/or feces.
If any feces or urine does get onto the bed sheets or covers, etc.
I would recommend to wash those sheets immediately using the following steps.
- If there is feces on the sheets, remove it with paper towels. Place those used paper towels in a plastic bag and discard the bag.
- Fill the sink or bathtub (whatever would accommodate the item you are washing) with water (a cool temperature). In a bathtub add 1/4 cup of laundry detergent. You can adjust the amount of detergent you use depending on the size of the container you are filling with water.
- Place your dirty items in the water, put on disposable plastic gloves and agitate the water and the material with your hand, swooshing back and forth for about 10 minutes. A human washing machine! If you want to use rubber gloves for this make sure to clean them afterwards with an antibacterial wipe or a cloth soaked in a disinfectant. (Avoid using alcohol to clean rubber gloves).
- Drain the water, twist the material you are cleaning so that any excess water is removed.
- Place your material in a plastic bin.
- Bring everything to your washing machine where you will add any stain treatment product you may have like Shout or Grandma’s Secret or other product. Make sure to apply this stain remover directly to the affected area(s). Follow the directions from your specific stain remover product.
- Wash the sheets using both laundry detergent and chlorine bleach. Of course if your sheets are anything other than white make sure to use color safe bleach!
If your bedridden patient happens to spend any time resting on the couch, you will also want to protect that furniture from urine as well.
How Do You Change Sheets When Someone Is Bedridden?
The process of changing sheets when someone is bedridden can be a bit more complicated and time-consuming than for those who are able to assist.
1) Have all of your supplies close by and within reach before you begin. This includes clean sheets, a laundry basket, and any other items you may need such as incontinence pads or gloves.
2) Place the laundry basket next to the bed.
3) Remove any pillows or other bedding from the bed.
4) If the patient is wearing an incontinence pad, remove and dispose of it.
5) Gently lift the patient onto one side, being careful not to jar or jostle them.
6) Using a clean sheet, lift the soiled one away and place it in the laundry basket.
7) Place the clean sheet on the bed.
8) Return the patient to their original position on the bed.
9) Put any pillows or other bedding back in place.
10) Wash your hands thoroughly.If the patient is able to walk, they should be encouraged to do so as often as possible to avoid bed sores.
When moving the patient, be sure to use gentle and slow movements to avoid causing them pain.
Here’s a video showing you the steps mentioned above.
3. Products To Increase Comfort While Bedridden
You want to, of course, make sure that your elderly loved one is as comfortable as possible while they are in bed so anything that you can do to to help with that would certainly be most appreciated!
Here are some suggestions:
- Orthopedic support wedge pillows
- Bed tables
- Waterless shampoo and conditioner
- Rinse free sponges
4. Keeping To A Schedule
When you are bedridden – it’s very easy to lose track of time.
And for caregivers, the multitide of time consuming tasks can make time slide away so quickly, you wonder where the day went.
For these reasons, it’s very important to do all you can to keep to a schedule. The benefits are many…
- Daily routine helps to keep you on track with medications, hydration, eating and sleep patterns.
- Routines help to reduce stress (having predictable and structured events can greatly reduce stress).
- Routines also help to increase a sense of safety and security.
- Doing the same thing at the same time each day is very helpful for people with dementia and other cognitive issues.
- Schedules can help caregivers to care for themselves. Knowing that every Monday and Thursday afternoon you have 4 hours away (just as an example) can help you to get through those days and moments when you feel the world is closing in on you.
5. Bathing a Bedridden Senior
If the person you are caring for is bedridden, they will still need to be bathed on a regular basis.
This can be done in a number of ways, depending on their level of mobility.
If they are able to sit up, you can bathe them in a chair with a built-in shower seat.
If they are unable to sit up, you can bathe them in their bed with a sponge bath or wipe.
Here’s a great video showing you the proper way to give an adult a sponge bath.
6. Leisure and Engagement
In addition to the routine chores that are performed daily like bathing, eating, and drinking, it’s equally crucial to engage in enjoyable pursuits as well.
Naturally, you would want to include the hobbies your elderly loved one prefers as much as possible.
However, here are some suggestions that might help to maintain a lively atmosphere for everyone.
- Adult coloring books
- Reading and/or listening to books
- Games, either solo or with others
- Television and movies and Youtube
- Listening to podcasts
7. Physical Movement Of Some Kind
Any series of exercises that you can do with your senior loved one in bed would be beneficial.
This could include any movements that they can make as well as movements that your physical therapist would instruct you to do on that person.
I do recommend that you get consultation from your physician and a physical therapist before you do any form of exercises with a bedridden person.
In the long run, this will help to prevent bedsores and ensure that their muscles don’t atrophy.
By following these tips, you can help make a bedridden elderly patient feel more comfortable and cared for.