Helping the Elderly Bedridden Live A Richer Life
Well, 11/11/11 was not a particularly good day for our family as our darling Mom, Gertie, broke her hip and had set me off on a quest to figure out how to help the elderly bedridden patient. Since she was 95, our initial decision was to forgo surgery. But, we didn’t realize that, without surgery, Mom would be in constant pain in bed and in excruciating pain when she had to be moved to be bathed or to use a bedpan. Surgery quickly became the solution we needed. And, for us, it was the right choice.
After Mom’s surgery, she was out of bed the very next day, standing on her newly repaired hip. Don’t get me wrong, it was painful but still necessary. We also enrolled her in the Hospice program which helped me further understand how to help a bedridden patient.
Mom spent another 5 weeks in rehabilitation in a nursing home. I was right by her side every day and had a paid caregiver with her at night. Under our watchful (and sometimes, questioning) eyes, Mom recovered fairly well. She was out of pain in about a week.
Hospital Beds Help The Elderly Rest More Easy
When Mom eventually came home, I turned my living room into her bedroom with the addition of a hospital bed. With the ability to raise or lower the head and foot of the bed, she was able to eat, sleep, and watch the daily going ons in the house from her new bed. She loved the thing!
You might check into renting a hospital bed from a medical supply store in your area but, if your bedridden patient is expected to be bedridden a long time, you might be better off buying a hospital bed.
Here’s a few good hospital beds and accoutrements on Amazon.com that might interest you if you’re dealing with a bedridden patient:
Preventing Bedsores in Bedridden Patients
There are many many side effects of being bedridden ranging from physical limitations to emotional toil. Bedsores are on the physical side and can easily affect the emotions also. Pain and despair can result when a bedsore forms and fails to heal properly.
I was proud of the fact that, especially toward the end of Mom’s life when she was 100% bedridden (for about 5 weeks), I was so diligent in moving her and purchasing items to prevent bedsores that she never suffered one.
Helping the bedridden preventing bed sores can be difficult. A bit of history first:
Bed sores are pressure sores created by resting in one position too long; they generally form where soft tissue is compressed by bone. Elbows, ankles, and the buttocks are frequent spots for the formation of these ulcerations. Especially in the elderly, thinner skin means that pressure sores rapidly form and take a long time to clear.
Bed sores, unlike the connotation of the name, can be formed from resting in any position too long. This means that, if your elderly loved one tends to sit in a chair, wheelchair or in bed for a long time, they could be at risk for bed sores.
Bedsores.org lists the following risk factors:
a. Confinement to bed, chair, or wheelchair.
b. Inability to change positions without help.
c. Loss of bowel or bladder control.
d. Poor nutrition and/or dehydration.
e. Decreased mental awareness.
There are some good products on the market to prevent bedsores like these air mattress that alternate the pressure on different parts of the body.
Helping the bedridden: – Preventing bedsores – SOLUTIONS
- Get a specialized inflatable mattress or egg crate mattress topper for the bedridden to lie upon. Varying the surface of the bed allows air to circulate and relive tension so that bedsores do not easily form.
- Make sure there is appropriate bathing and drying (!) of the skin. I liked to use Comfort Cloth washcloths like the ones our hospital provided. Just pop them into the microwave or warm them in water and wipe the skin. Comfort Cloths are not very wet so you only have to wait a few minutes for the skin to dry or, alternatively, dry the skin with a soft clean cloth.
- Reposition the bedridden patient frequently, at least every hour or more if they feel pressure in any part of the body. If at all possible, get the bedridden to do any exercise they can manage. Perhaps a WII video game will allow the bedridden patient to move a bit when playing a bowling or badminton game.
- Make sure that the bedridden patient has adequate hydration – water is not only important for keeping the body healthy but will also help keep the skin healthy. Also, moisturizing lotions may be rubbed onto the skin to provide a barrier. Medline Moisure Barrier Cream is a good lotion for spots likely to sweat against bed clothes or chair seats.
- Keep the bed sheets smoothed down. Wrinkles or rough bedsheets may easily lead to bedsores so make sure that the sheets are the best you can afford and use bed suspenders to hold the sheets taut.