13 Products to Make Caring For Bedridden Seniors Easier
As you likely know, one of the biggest challenges caregivers of bedridden seniors face is ensuring they are both comfortable and safe.
Often this is a delicate balancing act because many items that provide comfortable also interfere with the caregiving process.
For example, a big, fluffy, down-filled pillow is extremely comfortable but doesn't offer the support needed, especially when propping a person in bed.
The result? You spend more time readjusting their position, putting strain and stress on both of you.
So, to help you navigate the jungle of options, I will share my 13 favorite products that can make caring for a bedridden older adult a lot easier for both of you... while maintaining their dignity.
There are many different reasons someone might be bedridden.
● They might be physically unable to leave their bed at all due to chronic medical conditions.
● Maybe they can walk, but it is unsafe for them to do.
● Other times, it may be a temporary condition while recovering from surgery, injury, or stroke.
While their needs may vary depending on the level of their disability, they all share the same common basic needs:
● a safe and comfortable place to sleep,
● adequate hydration,
● regular exercise,
● good nutrition,
● and the support of loved ones.
But there is one crucial need that overshadows all the rest. That need is dignity.
Here are the 13 products that can help you meet the various needs of a bedridden senior.
An adjustable bed can be a lifesaver for both caregivers and bedridden seniors.
By allowing the seniors to adjust their position independently, they can be more comfortable and less likely to experience bedsores or other issues. The caregiver won't have to adjust pillows and blankets constantly.
Helping seniors maintain their independence also helps them retain their dignity as well.
Additionally, an adjustable bed can make it easier for caregivers to perform their duties because they can lower or raise the height of the bed.
A bedside commode adds dignity to the caregiving situation by allowing the senior to use the toilet without having to use briefs, a bedpan, or underpads on the bed - all of which can cause embarrassment. (They may still need some help with toileting hygiene.)
If it is safe, offer to leave the room while they are toileting to provide them a little dignity during this most private of tasks.
However, bedside commodes are only safe if the patient can transfer from the bed to the commode and back safely - with or without help.
No one enjoys looking at the same four walls all day long.
A wheelchair can help move the seniors around the house so that they can participate in activities with other families. They may feel more dignified meeting visitors in the living room rather than in their private bedroom.
A lightweight wheelchair makes it easier for caregivers to push and lift into a car - especially if they are older themselves.
A patient lift is a device that helps caregivers move seniors who are unable to stand or participate in transfers. Lifts help move a senior from their bed to a wheelchair or from their wheelchair to a toilet without you physically picking them up.
A patient lift makes these transfers much more manageable and reduces the risk of injury to both the caregiver and the senior.
If your loved one spends most of their time on their back in bed, look very closely at their mattress. If you use a hospital-style bed, you may not want to use the one that came with it.
Bedbound seniors are especially at risk for bedsores, and mattresses are a substantial contributing factor. If your loved one is at risk, get a high-quality pressure-relieving zoned foam mattress or an alternating air pressure mattress to relieve the pressure and reduce the risk.
Another option is a mattress with raised sides that can reduce the chance of them falling out of bed or getting out on their own.
There are two different styles of bed rails.
The more commonly known style prevents people from rolling or falling from bed by providing a stable barrier. The second type serves as a standing aid and helps people who are somewhat mobile or can safely transfer in and out of bed.
Look for bed rails that attach securely to the bed frame directly but can be lowered and moved out of the way to not interfere with caregiving.
If the person you care for cannot safely get to the bathroom for bathing, you are likely giving them bed baths. If so, there are better options than a basin and soapy water.
Bag bath kits include disposable washcloths with soothing, moisturizing, and no-rinse bath soaps that provide a more relaxing - and less wet - option for giving a bed bath. Because they don't soak the bed, a sheet change isn't necessary after each bath.
To maintain dignity, cover the person with a warm blanket (just out of the dryer) and only uncover areas when cleaning them.
An overbed table provides bedbound seniors a steady surface to play, work, groom, and entertain themselves.
These tables that roll right over the top of the bed surface are a great place to set up a laptop or tablet, write checks to pay bills, and work a puzzle or play a game.
Some overbed tables come with a mirror for personal care and grooming too.
Clothing changes are stressful and difficult for both the bedridden senior and the caregiver. The process involves a lot of tugging, pulling, and rolling.
Open-backed gowns can make this much easier because they are fastened in the back, reducing the movement needed.
But no one wants to lay around in a hospital gown. So, to help your loved one maintain some dignity, look for gowns and pajamas that are stylish and that look like something they might normally wear - but are also easy to change.
There are many options here at Dignity Pajamas that check off both boxes.
It is critical that a bedridden person can easily communicate with friends and family or summon help in an emergency.
The simplest way is to have a phone nearby that is always within reach. If it is a battery-powered option like a smartphone or cordless phone, ensure they know how to charge it, and it stays charged.
Landline phones may be another option, as well as caregiver paging buttons and medical alert systems.
Life in bed gets boring quickly, so entertainment is a must.
Have a music player nearby with a wide choice of music options. Many player options allow you to load hundreds of songs to them via MP3 files.
For seniors with dementia, one button radios are easy to operate and let them control their entertainment to maintain some dignity.
Add in a pair of lightweight headphones if their music taste differs from yours!
Being coupled up in the same room often leads to stale air and, unfortunately, exposure to odors that come with caring.
Get a high-quality HEPA air filter to run continuously in the room, creating more hygienic, cleaner, and fresher air. It will also clear odors from the air quickly.
A side benefit? The white noise from the filter may help them sleep better too!
Getting exercise and being active is nearly impossible when confined to bed.
Provide your loved one a way to get some exercise by providing them some lightweight hand or ankle weights, resistance bands (which you can attach to a bed frame), or some bed yoga and chair exercise DVDs.
If it is safe, have them sit in a chair and use a pedal or leg exerciser.
A water bottle with a long straw is a great way to keep your loved one hydrated without lifting their head.
Look for a bottle that is easy to clean and has a wide mouth so you can fill it with ice cubes. It should have a lid and be spill-proof to prevent soaking the bed.
Caring for a bedridden elderly relative can be difficult. But with the help of these 13 products, it can be much easier - for both of you.
In addition to these products, keeping a close eye on the senior's health and well-being is essential.
Most importantly, consider maintaining your loved one's dignity in caregiving. That might be the most important service you can provide!
Thanks for sharing Scott!