Your Guide to Caring For Bedridden Elderly People At Home

By: Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS®

It’s not always easy to keep a bedridden elderly loved one in the comfort of their own home. But with a few tips and tricks, it can be a very rewarding experience for the entire family.

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Let’s face it, everyone does better in the comfort of their own home.

Many elderly refuse to move to a nursing care facility and with good reason, it’s not home. Many insurance plans won’t cover long-term nursing facility care or full-time long-term care so it falls upon the elder or their family to find a way to pay for their long term care. Often the family decides to care for their bedridden loved one at home.

When a person is bedridden they are going to need a lot of assistance in their activities of daily living (ADL). Caregiving for a loved one who is bedridden will involve several considerations that many of us take for granted.

It will take a lot of patience and perseverance to care for your loved one at home. Many patients have lost their will to live, still, others will have some serious health issues that must be taken into consideration when forming a care plan.

Here are some changes and ways to deal with them for those who are bedridden and their caregivers (caregivers can be paid caregivers or family members who take turns caregiving for the bedridden patient).

Hygiene

It’s important to help the bedridden patient stay clean. A gentle bed bath with a no rinse body wash will go far in helping the patient to stay clean and maintain cleanliness. It’s also a great way to boost morale and encourage the patient to not give up on life. Bath time should be kept short and as easy as possible.

Consider dry shampoos and large cloth wipes that help to keep the patient clean without having to submerge them in water. Make sure to help them with their hair and if desired put lipstick on grandma or great-grandma to help her feel more like herself.

It can be embarrassing for a bedridden patient to have to wear adult diapers and be cared for as if they were an infant. Avoid making a big deal about it and offer them privacy by using a hand towel over their private parts if they have to be uncovered for a sponge bath or as they’re being changed.

Dietary Needs

Bedridden patients still require good nutrition. Find out what foods the patient prefers. If in doubt about the nutritional needs of a bedridden senior, ask a dietician through their doctor what sort of diet they should be on. Be aware of special dietary needs such as low salt, diabetic, or gluten-free diets and make sure to help the person eat the proper foods to ensure their health.

Many bedridden patients prefer to be fed by one family member over another and they will eat better for that person. Make dining a fun time and encourage them to eat as much as they can without pushing them to eat too much.

woman caring for her bedridden husband at home
Try to balance the elderly person’s taste preferences with their nutritional needs.

Monitor Health Changes

When bedridden patients are in a prone position, they’re at an increased risk of pulmonary congestion and pneumonia.

Monitor the patient for any symptoms of congestion, upper respiratory illness, and other health issues. If someone is sick don’t allow them to spend time with the patient until they are well.

Entertainment

It can quickly become boring when you’re isolated in a room all alone, without any conversation or source of entertainment. There are lots of activities they can do while in bed to keep them engaged and entertained.

If possible, have the patient’s room in an area where they won’t feel left out of the goings-on in the household. Offer them a television with a remote, provide some magazines that they may be interested in for them to read.

Encourage them to visit with friends and family often. Sit and visit with them or read to them. Even if the patient has Alzheimer’s or Dementia and can’t remember family they still need to be talked to and visited with.

RELATED: Bed Tables for Bedridden Seniors

Consider simple games with the patient as well. I listed lots of games you can play with bed bound seniors in this guide.

Even young children can spend time with their grandparents or great-grandparent while they are bedridden. Encourage the young to spend a few minutes visiting to help keep their spirits up. Children will come away with a renewed sense of accomplishment and they will always treasure the time that they were able to spend with their grandparents or great-grandparents.

bedridden senior woman playing games in bed
It is important for bed bound seniors to be engaged in activities that they enjoy to prevent feelings of hopelessness or uselessness.

Pressure Sores

A huge concern is pressure ulcers. These pressure ulcers can easily become infected. It’s important to keep their skin clean and dry.

Helping the patient to turn and reposition will be vital to helping prevent these pressure sores. When someone is confined to bed, they are often unable to turn themselves. Prop them up with pillows or blankets on one side and help them to gently turn to the other side frequently throughout the day to help avoid pressure sores.

If they are able to move around in bed, encourage them to so some easy exercises in bed to get blood flowing for better oxygenation of their tissues.

Keep an eye on areas where pressure sores typically occur including the ankles, hips, heels, and the tailbone. If there is a pressure sore, make sure that it doesn’t get infected. Rotate the patient at least every two hours during the daytime to help relieve the pressure on the afflicted area.

Take Time For Yourself

Caring for bedridden elderly family members at home is a huge challenge and the caregiver needs to take time for themselves as well. Family caregivers need to work together to ensure that the care doesn’t fall all on one person. If one family member is better at a task than another then divide up the tasks so that no one has to do it all.

Take breaks often, even if it’s only for a short walk or to take a shower yourself. Focus on quality of life and encourage the bedridden elderly to enjoy their life right where they’re at. Ask their advice (as long as they’re not Alzheimer’s or Dementia patient) and discuss things that won’t upset them.

Caring for a bedridden elderly family member can be very rewarding in the long run. Looking back, you’ll treasure the time you were able to spend with them and appreciate that you know you made them comfortable in their golden years.

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1 thought on “Your Guide to Caring For Bedridden Elderly People At Home”

  1. Hi. When caring for someone that is confined to bed, I understand the need for repositioning them. However, what about during the night when they and yourself are sleeping? Should the person still be repositioned every two hours? Also, should be repositioning be every two hours or three hours throughout the day? I look forward to your reply. Thanks.

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