There are a number of major challenges in caring for bedridden seniors. These individuals must get adequate nutrition, exercise and attention in order to maintain their present levels of health and to recognize any improvements. This requires that full-time care be given so that unfortunate developments such as bed sores and loss of mobility do not arise.
Talking With The Patient’s Doctor
Bedridden seniors will have different needs according to their current conditions and medical histories. For instance, some patients may be able to perform necessary range of motion exercises on their own, such as stretching and rotating the arms and legs. Others will be more passive in these activities and caregivers will have to move their extremities for them. Speaking with the individual’s personal doctor will give you a clear understanding of what to expect and will help you determine whether or not it will be necessary to gain outside assistance.
Ensuring that the individual is getting sufficient nutrients is vital. Serving a greater quantity of small-sized meals is far preferable to three larger meals throughout the day. Hydration is another vital factor to consider. It is imperative to routinely check for the first signs of dehydration such as dry and cracked lips and to regularly offer the patient water. The digestive systems of bedridden seniors are likely to hit a lull as their physical activity levels come to a halt. Each meal should therefore contain plenty of soluble fiber and should be soft enough for the patient to masticate easily and to reduce the likelihood of choking. Thus, applesauce is almost always preferable to apples in this respect. Liquid meals or liquid meal supplements may need to be served according to doctor recommendations.
Protecting Bony Protrusions
Lying still in any position can grow uncomfortable over time. The bony protrusions such as the shoulder blades, heels, hips, knees and elbows can begin to create excess pressure and discomfort in the surrounding soft tissues. Adding an additional foam mattress or any soft mattress topper to the bedding can reduce this effect. You should additionally take care to change the position of bedridden seniors at least once every two hours.
Practicing Proper Hygiene
One of the greatest challenges in keeping elderly individuals who are bedridden comfortable is ensuring that they are clean and dry. Purchasing a sufficient stock of hygiene amenities will make this far easier. Dry shampoo will reduce the frequency with which the hair must be washed in the conventional manner. Gentle, water-based soaps will make it far easier to sponge bathe the patient without leaving a drying residue on the skin. Those individuals who are wearing diapers should be changed frequently. This can be done when the physical position of the patient is changed in order to simplify the caretaker’s schedule.
Understanding The Psychological Aspects Of Being Bedridden
The mindset and mood of bedridden patients is something that many caretakers fail to take into account. Temporary or permanent loss of mobility does not always mean that the mind is functioning poorly as well. Becoming entirely reliant upon others for care can be very depressing for many aging adults. It can also be quite lonely. Thus, in addition to changing physical positions and diapers, ensuring routine feedings and sufficient water, caretakers must also try to spend quality time communicating with patients and helping to keep them entertained.
Sam Moser is a freelance content writer who has written almost exclusively for the web since graduating from the School of Journalism at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario. And home care in Cambridge has always been his favorite elder care institution.