5 TIPS to Help care for a Bedridden Elderly Person!

As people get older, it becomes harder and harder for them to go through their everyday activities, even hygiene. If an elderly individual has to be bedridden and you have to take the role of a caregiver, there are things you need to know. If this is your first experience and you want to know how to care for a bedridden elderly person, these five tips will be very beneficial.

Grooming & Hygiene

Grooming and hygiene are the two most important things that you’ll need to do for a bedridden elderly individual. They depend on the help of others when it comes to their personal hygiene, so you should educate yourself on how to do things properly.

Hair

Taking care of their hair and beard is important. You can’t let elderly people in bed with greasy hair for days and a beard that is not trimmed. Make sure that they get their haircut and beard trimmed regularly. If this doesn’t happen, it can lead to infestation by parasites, lice, and more.

Dental Hygiene

Dental care is something that everyone should practice several times a day, so if the person can’t get out of bed, you can help them by bringing all the necessary items right next to their bed. You can get a bowl of water, a toothbrush, and toothpaste. You can bring these items to the person, so that they can brush their teeth. If they can’t brush their teeth, make sure that you offer the required help.

Bathing

If the elderly person is well enough to get in the shower without help, you can still get them certain items that will aid them throughout the process. Think of a chair in the shower that will provide support when they need it. If the person requires assistance, you will have to help them. How often the individual should get a shower or bathe depends on the condition of their health and the diseases or conditions that they suffer from.

Bedding

Bedridden elderly people spend most of their time in their bed, that’s why it’s extremely important that their bedding is clean. You should purchase bedding made of a material that is durable, easy to wash, dries fast, and pleasant to their skin. Make sure that you change the bedding often.

Some bedridden elderly will not be able to get up without help, so they might need to wear diapers. There is no shame in that, just make sure that they feel comfortable talking about wearing diapers. They might require help from you when changing the diapers[1], so be friendly and let them know that they can ask when they need a helping hand.

Another way to keep the sheets clean and avoid accidents is with special bed wetting sheets. They are made of special materials, are absorbent, don’t let urine spread all over the bed, are machine washable, and reusable. This is a great way to save money on expensive bed pads that you’ll need to wash too often. The sheet protectors will help you save time as well since you won’t have to wash the sheets very often.

Also, get all of the medical equipment [2] that you can to make this a more pleasant experience. These days there are so many devices that will make life easier for both the bedridden person and their caregiver. Some of the things you want to look at are the bedside urinals, transfer boards, and more.

Clothing

Even when people are bedridden they should wear clean clothes. Dirt and bacteria can accumulate on clothes if people are wearing them constantly for a long time. Make sure that the elderly person has a clean set of clothing every day and help them change.

Also, you should purchase pajamas made of natural fabrics that dry fast and are easy to maintain. The same thing applies to everyday clothes. They should be lightweight, breathable, and easy to take care of.

Nails

Cutting fingernails and toenails is a part of a hygiene routine for every person. You should help bedridden people cut their nails, or you can do it for them. Long nails are a huge no because they can become ingrown nails, lead to pain, infections, and more. Also, if the elderly scratch with long nails they can cause themselves harm.

Good Nutrition & Hydration

A balanced diet [3] is very important for bedridden elderly people. Making sure that they get the nutrients they need on a daily basis should be your priority. This will not only improve their quality of life but also possibly prolong their lifespan.

The best way to know that your elderly relative or friend is getting the food they need is to talk to their doctor or a specialist in the field. This is even more important if they’re getting ready for surgery, are recovering from surgery, or are under treatment.

You should try and keep a diary of their eating habits if you can. If not, talk to their caretaker so that they know the type of nutrients that the elderly person should be getting during each meal. It’s best if they don’t have large meals, instead split their diet into several smaller ones. It’s needless to say that their diet should be filled with healthy foods and drinks that promote good health.

Aside from having a great diet, bedridden people might need help getting their food. Eating in your bed is far from comfortable. To make this experience more pleasant, you can get them an overbed table. It will not only serve them for the meals, but it will be great if they want to read a book, magazines, use their iPad, play games, keep their medication, and more. This is one of the best investments you can make.

Physical Movement

The elderly person might be bedridden, however, that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t move at all. Unless not moving is strictly advised by a professional, the individual should still practice some physical movement, so that they can preserve the function of their muscles. Staying in bed for a long time without moving can lead to atrophy.

Physical activity will also be great for their mental health. You should encourage them to move as much as they can. This should be done safely, without any possibility of harm. By moving, these elderly people will protect the range of motion of their bodies. These moves can be very basic, just light stretching that keeps the blood flowing through their extremities and the rest of the body.

If you’re not a professional and don’t know how to stimulate elderly people to get active, you should ask for help from a caregiver. They will be able to do small exercises with their patients, movements that will prevent muscle atrophy. Being tied to a bed without any movement is one of the worst things that can happen to a person.

Emotional Support

Being tied to a bed can have a serious toll on the emotional and physical health of elderly people. That’s why you should be supportive and offer help for whatever they need. Once they become bedridden they will not only be bored, but they might also become depressed if they lack company.

That’s why it’s crucial that you talk to them as often as you can, and provide various forms of entertainment. It’s great if you can install a TV so that the elderly person can spend some quality time watching their favorite programs, movies, and shows. Social games are also a lot of fun. Books, magazines, and newspapers are another way for them to stay busy. If this individual likes using a phone, laptop, or iPad, they can fill their free time being online.

Self Care

Don’t forget to also take care of yourself[4]. Taking care of others is humble, but it’s also very tiring. If you ever feel overwhelmed, don’t be ashamed to ask for help. It can be someone from your family or a professional caretaker.

While you’re doing everything you can for your elderly relative or friend, you can forget about your needs. That’s why we’re here to remind you that self-care is crucial and you need to write that down in your schedule. Relaxing after a hard day with a glass of wine, a book, or a long bath might be exactly what you need. Also, taking care of a bedridden individual can be very stressful and take a toll on your mental health. During this time you have to find a way to unwind and find a person to talk to when you need support. Meditation and yoga are great ways to stay healthy.

Conclusion

It’s okay to be completely confused if this is your first time taking care of a bedridden elderly person. As long as you help them with everyday personal hygiene, provide them with quality nutrition, give them the emotional support that they need, help them stay physically active, you shouldn’t worry. Yes, it sounds like quite a lot, that’s why you should also practice self-care and take care of yourself.

Citations

  1. https://www.griswoldhomecare.com/blog/2018/december/caring-for-bedridden-elderly-adults-at-home/
  2. https://seniorsafetyadvice.com/how-to-care-for-a-bedridden-elderly-person-at-home/
  3. https://sandysideseniorliving.com/bedridden-patient-care-dos-and-donts/
  4. https://www.firstincare.com/senior-care-advice/how-to-care-for-a-bed-bound-senior/
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