Being a caregiver to a family member or loved one is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. Caring for a bedridden relative can be even more challenging, especially if it’s your first time. Whether you take on the role of caregiver or seek out the assistance of a professional caregiver, it’s important to identify and assist with the daily tasks that can no longer be completed.
If you are a first-time caregiver, we have included some tips on how to care for a bedridden loved one. Remember to also practice feelings of compassion and patience for your elderly relative, as this is a new and challenging experience for them as well.
Practicing good hygiene
One of the best places to start to ensure the comfort of your loved one is to make sure that their basic hygiene and grooming needs are being met. Start with the basics like bathing, oral hygiene, and a change of clothes. Depending on the state of your loved one, you might be able to assist them in taking a shower or bath, but if this is not an option, sponge or bed baths will suffice. Be sure to also keep up with grooming needs that your loved one has such as hair cuts, shaving, trimming, and keeping their fingernails and toenails at a healthy length. Maintaining basic hygiene and grooming needs are essential when it comes to keeping your bedridden loved one clean and comfortable.
Change linens regularly
This is a simple and effective thing you can do that will make a huge difference when it comes to caring for your elderly relative. Because your loved one is spending the majority, if not all, of their time in bed, it’s important to make sure that you are swapping out sheets and pillowcases every 2-3 days. Bedding can become soiled from grooming, food, dirt, and other debris so it’s important to be consistent with changing linens. During this time, be sure to talk to your relative about the comfort level of the sheets and whether they are too stiff, soft, or cause any irritation.
Nutrition & Hydration
It is critical that your loved ones receive proper nutrition and hydration while they are in your care. Make sure that you are providing well-balanced meals that are nutrient-dense to keep up their health and mood. If you find that your loved one is not able to chew food or eat solid food, talk to their doctor to find out alternative ways to nourish them.
Encourage your loved one to drink a sufficient amount of water to prevent symptoms of dehydration such as dry mouth, dry lips, headaches, and fatigue.
Bedsores are painful injuries to the skin that can occur if a person sits or lays in a single position for a long period of time and are likely to happen to bedridden individuals if preventative measures are not taken. Try repositioning your loved one every few hours and encourage them to readjust themselves as well, if possible. You can also talk to your doctor or a professional caregiver about tips on repositioning.
If you notice bedsores on any part of the body, notify a doctor for topical treatment options.
Keep a schedule
This may be difficult if you are the sole caregiver of your loved one but keeping some sort of schedule will be beneficial when it comes to meals and medication. Write out a daily routine that includes times for meals, baths, snacks, and medications. Keeping a schedule will also promote a sense of routine and comfort for your loved one, especially if you receive additional help from another relative or a professional caregiver.
Comfortable & Clean environment
Because your loved one is confined to their bed, it’s important to keep a clean and comfortable environment for them. Choosing a clutter-free room with natural light and television can significantly improve their mood if they start to experience feelings of loneliness or depression.
Be sure to have a nightstand or small table next to the bed so they can easily reach for snacks, water, chapstick, or even a book.
One of the easiest ways to contribute to a healthy environment for your loved one is to keep them company. Whether you watch a movie together or just have a conversation, being surrounded by the people they love is vital to their mental and emotional health.
If there comes a point where you can no longer assist with daily needs, it’s important to reach out for help. Many first-time caregivers find it in their loved one’s best interest to hire a professional caregiver. At Home Care Connectors, we can help you find live-in or hourly services that suit the unique needs of your loved ones.