People who are frail can spend long periods of time in bed or sitting in a chair. Whilst bedrest is essential for recovery, too much time in bed can lead to more serious health problems such as bedsores and pneumonia.
Caring for a bedridden person can place extra strain on a caregiver. But there are things you can do to help lessen the load. If you’re caring for a bedridden person you will need to keep an eye out for pressure areas, constipation, UTI, infection and aspiration.
Encouraging a person to change position every two hours, even just shifting their weight is beneficial. Keeping a person clean and dry can not only promote comfort but help reduce the risk of pressure ulcers developing.
Contractures can be debilitating for those suffering from stroke or at the end stage of dementia. Immobility increases the likely hood of contractures in the hands, knees and elbows. Many people in late stage dementia curl into a fetal position which can complicate caregiving.
Things you can do
- For carers, turning a person often can be time consuming and tiring. Slide sheets reduce the effort required for turning a person and can be useful for changing a person in bed.
- To assist a person to turn over in bed instal a grab bar or bed rail for the person to hold onto. Always encourage a person to help as much as they can.
- Encourage range of movement in the upper and lower limbs every day! Even gentle hand and foot massage can help. Ask a nurse or physiotherapist to show you how.
- Sitting at certain angles can put pressure on the sacrum, increasing the risk of pressure areas. Lower the head of the bed just a little (after meals) to reduce pressure on the sacrum. Remind a person to shift their weight.
- Use pillows to prop a frail person up in bed. Banana shaped pillows can be comfy.
- A Medical Sheepskin underlay or bed cover can be placed under the sacrum, heels or over the entire bed to reduce pressure and help keep a person dry and comfortable.
- An adjustable bed can be beneficial for people with chronic conditions and those recovering from surgery. People with certain medical conditions (e.g heart failure) often need to elevate the head of the bed to relieve their symptoms.
- Raising the foot of the bed can prevent blood and fluid from pooling in the legs and help alleviate swelling (e.g treating DVT)
- Hospital tables are a handy item that allow a person to easily eat meals and read in bed. Ensure a person has everything within reach and a whistle or bell to call for help.
- For meals ensure a person is sitting fully upright, an adjustable head rest helps for this purpose.