Apr 212012

As physical conditions decline, mobility declines. If your parent is essentially bedbound their risk of complications goes up. Frequent turning, positioning and good skin care will prevent many of these problems. Complications include pneumonia, constipation, bladder infections, fractures and bedsores.

In addition to basic skin care, positioning helps prevent bedsores.

Use pillows to support and position them for comfort, turning and changing their position at least every two hours.

Body pillows or regular pillows can be used to support the arms and legs when laying the side with a pillow at the back to prevent turning over onto their back.

When positioning someone on their side, they should actually be leaning back against a pillow so that their body is angled about about a 30 degree incline. This distributes the weight over a larger area, causing less pressure over boney areas. Scroll down to Figure 2 for an example. At the 2.30 min. mark is a good example: Positioning Video

Make sure you pull their shoulder out from under them.

Wedge shaped pillows raise the head, a small rolled pillow can be placed under the knees.

Rolled wash cloths can be placed in the hands if needed to prevent the hands from becoming contractured.

C-shaped pillows help to position the neck.

Commercially made Positioning Devices are available for purchase and may be a better choice in some instances.

If you are caring for someone who is unable to move and needs to be repositioned, ask a health care provider such as a nurse, physical therapist or certified nursing assistant to show you how to effectively position the person.

As is obvious, caring for someone who is bedridden is physically demanding work. It is all too common for caregivers to hurt their backs and then the frantic search for someone to help out ensues. There are some simple steps you can do to decrease your risk of back injury.

First of all, get help. Do not tug and pull on your parent by yourself unless they can help, such as grabbing a side rail and pulling.

Use a draw sheet under the patient to aid in turning and positioning. A draw sheet is simply a sheet that has been folded and placed under the buttocks, allowing a person on either side of the bed to grasp the sheet and lift it to move the patient. Saves tugging on your parent’s arm and risking a skin tear.

There are lifts to move a person between a bed and a chair, use a hospital bed and adjust to a comfortable height.

A bedside table can prove to also be a big help.

Medicare will often assist in paying for medical equipment, provided certain guide lines are met.

Because these guidelines change, call a local medical equipment supplier and they will be very happy to answer your questions and help you set up delivery.

Check out second-hand shops and yard sales when looking for used equipment. You can also contact your local home care agency and hospice. People will often donate used equipment to them, or tell them they have some they want to get rid of. Your local Senior Citizen’s Center might also have used equipment. And don’t forget the local want ad’s, ebay and craig’s list.

Apr 202012

Caring for an elderly parent who is bedridden is a full time job. It requires an extra level of diligence to prevent some of the complications that can occur due to lack of mobility. Those complications include: pressure sores, constipation, infections such as pneumonia, bone demineralization causing fractures, muscle weakness and wasting (atrophy), muscle shortening leading to contracture deformity. The quality of the daily care you provide helps significantly preserve health.

It all begins with good hygiene . A daily bath is necessary in this case, especially if the patient is incontinent. Whether or not you use soap everyday is not as important as the stimulation given to your parent’s circulation through washing, the movement of the body and time spent with you. This time is also a good time to inspect the skin for signs of problems and treat them, provide exercise and talk with the patient. If your parent can bathe themselves allow them to do as much as possible for themselves. Also allow rest breaks to avoid over fatigue.

Keep your parent covered except for the area being bathed to prevent chilling and provide them privacy. Clean each area of the body, gently rubbing and dry thoroughly, following up with lotion, massaging to promote comfort and stimulate circulation. Avoid massaging the legs too vigorously as there is the danger of loosening a blood clot.

If there are areas that tend to retain moisture such as under the breasts, stomach folds and groin, apply a light dusting of cornstarch. (Cheap trick: Buy a box of cornstarch, sift it and pour it into an empty powder bottle or you can use an empty container of dusting powder with puff such as those in the link at the end of this article.) Avoid using powders and lotions with perfumes as the fragrance may be irritating not only to breathing but also to the skin.

Bath time is also a good time to perform range of motion exercises. The limbs are warmed from the stimulation of the bath and gentle stretching and bending helps to loosen joints and maintain mobility. These exercises are simple to do and just what they sound like. You gently move the joints, while supporting them, putting them through their range of motion such as bend the arm at the elbow then straighten it. If your parent can move, have them do the exercises themselves.

Clean their teeth or dentures. Good mouth care is often overlooked and its importance under stressed. While looking up information about aspiration pneumonia (pneumonia caused by breathing something such as food, into the lungs) I discovered that most often the cause is from bacteria in the mouth and could be directly traced to poor mouth hygiene. If the person you are caring for is unable to consciously participate in mouth care there are products on the market to help you, such as lemon-glycerine swabs or toothettes. See:Brush, Brush, Brush. If the person breathes through their mouth you will want to make sure you perform oral care several times a day and don’t forget the tongue. You can help keep the mouth from drying out with commercial mouth moisturizers. Also lip moisturizers to keep the lips from cracking.

Comb or brush the hair, shave or apply makeup and if possible dress them in regular clothes. Looking their best is a great morale boost especially if they have visitors. Shampoo the hair at least once or twice a week. When a home care patient came out of the hospital there was almost universally one thing that made them feel better: for men it was shaving, for women it was getting their hair done. You can use Dry Shampoo or you can use a Shampoo Basin.

Clean and trim their nails regularly to prevent injury. Ladies may enjoy having their nails painted.

One of the most important things you can do while you are bathing someone is talk to them. Even if they are unresponsive and or don’t seem to know what is going on around them, talk to them as if they do. Hearing is one of the last senses we loose and we never know how much is getting through. Explain what you are going to do at each step, tell them news of people they know, what is going on in your life, or a news story they might find interesting. Talking to them helps to ease loneliness, sadness and feelings of isolation.

Dusting Powder