Tips for caring for the bedridden: If you have a loved one who is bedridden it’s inconvenient to say the least. For the patient it can be somewhat daunting to always call upon another when in need of something that is only slightly out of reach. Whether your loved one is bedridden temporarily or for a long while there are some things you can do to make life easier for him and yourself. Most care-givers are aware of things like bed pans to help the bedridden but there are many more handy items to help.
Keeping things at a distance easily reached by the bedridden person will help quite a bit. Use the headboard to place things within reach or pull up a night stand or table. It helps to set up a two-way monitor that works like a walkie-talkie, or simply use a bell for calling help. Try to find a bell with a clip or attach your own clip to the bell so the patient can clip it on the sheet when not in use.
They make a “reacher” which is found at department stores to help grab things which are placed too far away from the bed. The “grabber” is a small pole with a pincer-type apparatus at one end and a squeezable handle at the other. When squeezed the pincer closes and can allow the patient to pick up objects that are smallish and not too heavy. When the handle is released the pincer opens to allow the removal of the object.
Sliding tables will make life easier as well. If you have enough room use several of them, each holding different items, to slide up to and away from the bed. Keep the tables within reach and have each table contain specific items. One table can hold phone, phone book, pad, pen and reading glasses. Another table can hold puzzles or games. Still another can hold hand wipes, a pitcher of water and snacks. The patient can then slide preferred table up to the bed and slide it back when finished. These tables are designed to be adjustable to many different levels and positions for eating, reading and writing. They slide easily on most floors. Find them at department stores or order from magazines.
Make or purchase a set of bed pockets. They slide between the mattress and box springs of the bed and hang over the side, with pockets to store needy items. They’re easy to make: cut a piece of fabric about a third of the length of the bed and from the floor to a foot or so under the mattress. Cut another piece to go from the bottom of the large piece, about a third of the way up. Sew straight down in several places to form pockets for holding remote, glasses, puzzle books, tissue and medications. Make something similar to lay on sliding tables, with the pockets hanging over 3 edges. The table can now hold much more than before.
Keep hand sanitizing lotion nearby, along with wet-wipes. New wipes are now made for quick body washing purposes, making it easy for the patient to do quick wash-ups on his own. Be sure and have a small trash can located nearby. Use a small plastic tub and squirt bottle or pitcher and glass, on a sliding table, for teeth brushing. Use a small mirror with clamps to attach to the table.
There are lots of things besides games and puzzles that the patient can do when bored. Starting a scrapbook is one idea. Use a duffle bag or another organizer to store the scrapbook items next to the bed. The patient can then lift the bag onto a sliding table when ready to work. Duffels are good for other storage purposes while the patient is bedridden. They come in many sizes, can be stacked upon one another and easily reached from the side of the bed. Pack one with cd player, cd’s, books and journals. For kids, fill a duffel with his or her favorite toys and games.
Consider moving the stereo, VCR and DVD player over to one side of the bed for easy access. Tv’s can be hung on a wall with an inexpensive kit found in most department stores. Be sure to find a stud in the wall to hang the tv safely.
Washing hair is a chore when you’re the care-giver but is easier when you use a stainless steel or plastic tub. Lay the patient’s head, on a folded towel, on the edge of the portable tub. Set water, shampoo and towels on a sliding table for convenience. Squirt bottles make washing short hair very quick and prevent water from splashing everywhere. Pitchers of water help with long hair. It’s best to feel two or three rather than trying to refill each time.
One last thing: if you’re the care-giver remember to take time off for yourself to recoup. Taking care of someone who is bedridden is hard work. You need time to relax and have a break. Talk to friends and neighbors to see if you can find a temporary replacement for a couple of hours per day to take some time for you.