Whether because of a temporary injury, a side effect of an illness, or simply a consequence of aging, many seniors may need to spend a lengthy period of time lying down in a bed. Naturally, anyone would prefer their own house rather than the impersonal atmosphere of a hospital, but this location comes with its own set of unique challenges. If you find a loved one or friend in this position, don’t miss the follow tips for improving their quality of life:
1. Brighten up the Room
Spice up your loved one’s room up with beautiful decorations and stimulating imagery to combat boredom and feelings of depression. Display funny posters or photos specifically chosen by your bed-limited patient (think animals, hobbies, family etc), and rotate these pictures regularly. Even more importantly, ensure the room gets as much natural light as possible, and open a window every day if possible.
2. Bring the Outside, Inside
Who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by plants and flowers? By inviting the fresh scent of nature into the room, the four surrounding walls will feel much less claustrophobic, and you can even encourage a bit of indoor gardening! Research has even shown that viewing roses inside a room can improve comfort levels and induce relaxation.
Inactivity and boredom may wreak havoc on your loved one’s mind. In addition to a TV, you can help combat this with puzzles, books, music, or DVDs. Also consider purchasing a tablet device, which will allow your bed-limited friend to play video games, listen to audiobooks, or surf the web during this monotonous downtime.
In the same breath as diverting their attention out of their heads, it would be even more beneficial to encourage the patient to use this bed as a space of creativity, which will help them feel more useful in this frustrating break. Example suggestions include: catching up on writing letters, making a photo album, learning a new language, learning an instrument, knitting, researching a topic they’ve always found fascinating, or perhaps becoming an origami expert.
5. Useful Accessories
There are various products you can invest in to make everyone’s life easier. A multi-tasking bed tray can help mealtimes move faster and provide an accessible surface for books or laptops. Extra absorbent underwear or a waterproof bed pad can keep the mattress dry and free of odors. A bed pan is also essential for those who can’t make it to the bathroom, and installing a bed rail will grant certain patients the option to sit up on their own, if applicable.
6. A Healthy Diet
This point seems obvious but always speak to the patient’s doctor for nutritional advice first, as certain foods can interfere with some medications. Beyond that, talk to your bed buddy about what they feel like eating, and as long as it’s reasonably healthy, treat them from time to time. Keep a record of every meal, discuss any curious patterns with a professional, and don’t forget the hydration!
A clean body is a happy body, whilst minimizing the risk of any germs running rampant. Give the patient a good sponging every day using a no-rinse body wash, and change their clothing to keep them fresh and odorless. Brush their teeth as often as you brush yours, trim their fingernails and toenails to stop accidental scratchings or ingrown nail infections, and keep their hair/beard tidy for that warm finishing touch.
8. Watch Out for Bed Sores
If the buttocks, legs, or thighs spend too long pressed up against the same surface areas, tissue can break down and form painful ulcers. These are very dangerous, so prevent them by carefully repositioning the patient's body every few hours, whilst checking for any developing sores as you do so, and contacting the appropriate care team members if you do find any.
9. Change the Bedding Often
You should be replacing the bedding every 2 - 3 days. This will not only reduce the chance of infection but will also keep the bed smelling nice as a happy place to rest a head. Don’t forget to regularly ask your loved one if the linen is soft enough for them, and ensure that they feel warm throughout the night.
Finally, it is important to remember that everyone needs human contact, which is why you frequent visits or phone conversations are important. Keep topics focused on happy matters whilst inviting friends and family over whenever they get a chance. This is also another reason why you should fill the room with interesting items, as these will allow for easy conversation starters regardless of who has come around.