Health risks for bedridden seniors

BHC bedridden patient tips main.jpgTo have a loved one become bedridden is not only a big physical adjustment, but also emotionally difficult for patients and families. To make the transition easier and to keep patients as healthy and happy as possible, caregivers need to be aware of the risks to both they mental and physical health of the patient.

Here are some of the more common issues:

Pressure ulcers - Sitting or lying in the same position for extended periods may cause pressure ulcers. Pressure ulcers are caused when the weight of the body rests too long on the same pressure points, decreasing blood flow to those areas. Over time, the skin and muscles deprived of oxygen begin to die and become infected. These sores can become large, deep, painful and challenging to treat. It's essential for caregivers to make sure patients are being rotated to different positions, that moisture is being wicked away from the skin by clothing and bedding, and that care is taken not to injure skin during activities such as transfers and dressing.

Pulmonary congestion and pneumonia – Immobility can cause mucus and fluids build up in the chest leading to pneumonia and other complications. Prevention measures include raising the head of the bed during waking hours, making sure the patient isn’t over-eating or experiencing bloating that may impede deep breathing and encouraging deep breathing exercises and coughing.

Back pain - Remaining in one position for a long period also puts pressure on the spinal column, causing back pain. Make sure the patient is repositioned frequently to avoid stress on the spine.

Depression – Bedridden patients can become depressed because they feel like they are a burden, or because they have lost their autonomy, or because their social interactions are limited. It’s important to address emotional and mental health needs and to help patients know they are still a part of their communities.

Sleep problems - Sleep problems are common because bedridden patients may adopt an irregular sleeping schedule, aren’t getting physical exercise, or are feeling pain from lying in uncomfortable positions too long. Try to keep patients on a regular sleep schedule, use active and passive exercises daily and make sure patients are sleeping in comfortable and varied positions.

Loss of muscle tone and muscle stiffness – Support for limbs and a program of active and passive exercise will go a long way toward maintaining muscle tone and mobility.

Loss of appetite – Bedridden patients may feel listless and lose their appetites. Or, they may not be as hungry because they are not using as much physical energy - or they may even have apprehensions about toileting that make them refuse food. Ask a patient why they aren’t eating. Consult a physician about how you can make sure they are getting their needed nutrients and calories. They may have lost interest in food as they have other things because they are bored or lack stimulation, so keeping them alert and engaged in a variety of activities can help them be more interested in food, as well.

Constipation – Movement is essential to keep the digestive tract and colon operating smoothly. Bed-ridden patients may not get enough exercise, and constipation can be the result. Adding more fluids and fiber to their diet (if medically advisable) and sticking to a regular toileting routine will help ease constipation.

It can be challenging for family caregivers to provide for all of the needs unique to bedridden patients. Belvedere Home Care offers flexible scheduling, 24-hour care and several levels of service that can supplement family care and keep bedridden patients healthier, more mobile and more mentally engaged. Contact us today for more information:  (518) 694-9400 Option 4 or