Being bedridden is a difficult and painful experience both for the patient and the caregiver. This new lifestyle may pose a number of physical and mental health risks. While the patient struggles to adjust to immobility, the family caregivers often face major challenges when it comes to understanding the health risks involved and preventing them. Following are a number of physical and mental health issues faced by the bedridden patient and tips to avoid them. If the patient faces any of these despite the caregiver’s efforts it is best to consult a doctor, a therapist, or a certified health professional.
Pressure ulcers or bed sores are the most common health concern faced by bedridden patients. Too much pressure on the skin due to the patient’s inability to roll over causes these pressure ulcers. The cause immense pain and discomfort and if let unattended may lead to various infections. The parts of the body most prone to developing these bed sores are the shoulders, the elbows, the back, and the hips.
The best way to keep away pressure ulcers is to change the bed ridden patient’s position frequently (about every couple of hours). Keeping the skin clean and dry can also help decrease the risk of developing these sores. If the patient is able to move just a little bit, encouraging them to move frequently even if in the bed is the great idea.
Bedridden patients, even those who are capable of receiving oral care, are found to be at a significant risk of developing pneumonia. The severely curbed mobility of the patient reduces the amount of oxygen received by the lungs. Blood circulation to the respiratory organs too remains affected dur to inactivity. The accumulation of sputum in the bronchial pathways and the lungs becomes a major challenge. Adding to this are the woes caused by infection. This ultimately leads to hypostatic pneumonia which could turn life threatening.
Helping the patient with breathing exercises and keeping a clean environment goes a great way in avoiding risks of pneumonia among bedridden patients. The caregiver must be watchful and contact a doctor at the earliest sign of lung congestion. Using a 5 ml syringe with needle is the best way to administer drugs in case the bedridden patient is unable to receive oral care.
Urinary tract infection becomes another major concern for bedridden patients. This is primarily because of the inability to administer the regular hygiene received by mobile patients. The intimate areas of the bed ridden patient become breeding grounds for microorganisms. If the patient requires a catheter, the risk is compounded. Buying diapers for adults at wholesale rates and frequently changing them helps immensely. Using specialized products meant for intimate hygiene such as wipes and fluid washes also helps keep urinary tract infections and subsequent kidney damage at bay. The caregiver will also need to learn more about catheter care. Keeping a doctor informed at the first sign of infection will help avoid complications.
Depression is one of the major mental health challenges that a bedridden patient is likely to be up against. Adjusting to sudden or slowly worsening immobility can take a toll on the mental health of a patient. Caregiving for a bedridden patient does not only involve taking care of their physical needs but also includes fulfilling their social and emotional needs. It is very important that a bedridden patient be tended to with love and care. The presence of (or frequent visits from) a supportive family and friends and attempts to involve the patient in conversations and similar activities will help keep depression at bay.
Loss of Appetite
Lack of movement and agility often causes loss of appetite. This is also a result of slowing metabolic processes caused by lack of motion. It then becomes the caregiver’s responsibility to find a balanced diet to fulfil the patient’s nutritional requirements without overfeeding or starving. The process of feeding also becomes important. It is always important to feed the patient in an upright position to prevent choking hazards. Soft, easily digestible foods are important.
Being immobile and bedridden can often cause sleep disturbances in the patient. This is because when we fall asleep our bodies find a comfortable posture. Bedridden patients are unable to move and find this comfort. Being forced to lie in bed all day keeps them awake. This makes the role of the caregiver all the more important. Having to move and find a comfortable posture for the patient to sleep is important. It is also important to provide adequate stimulus during the waking hours to keep the sleep cycle intact. If a patient needs an intravenous injection to be able to sleep keep a stock of new 5 ml syringe with needle handy.