10 Caregiving Resolutions for Bedridden People with Alzheimer's
1. Prevent skin breakdown and pressure sores
Frequent changes of position are essential to prevent bed sores. Bed sores are easier to get than to get rid of! Move the person every two hours if possible alternating from right side to left side then on their back. Use pillows to support their position if required. Making an armchair like structure out of a minimum of 4 pillows helps support the upper back and head.
A balanced diet and frequent drinks will help keep someone with Alzheimer's comfortable and as healthy as possible. It will aslo help to prevent bedsores and skin problems.
2. Sit out of bed, if possible, for a few hours a day
There is equipment you can be taught to use that can help some (not all) caregivers get, even the most severely disabled person into a chair. The benefits are profound as it gives relief to pressure areas, especially the back, the shoulder blades, back of the head and the hips. Supportive reclining chairs help to prevent skin sores, chest infections, and it can make it easier to feed the person.
3. Learn how to do passive movements
To prevent joints seizing caregivers can help them by learning how to do passive movements. Passive movement means moving a joint without participation or effort on the part of the person. Here is a link to more information on the benefits of passive movement
4. Good diet and fluid intake
Feeding problems are common when nursing someone in bed. Poor appetite, swallowing difficulties and general ill health can also make things more difficult. A dietician may be helpful to give you ideas on an appropriate diet, food supplement drinks, liquefying foods and feeding aids.
5. Hygeine, mouth, eye & ear care for bedridden patients
Regular washing, especially for those who are incontinent is very important. Something that is often overlooked is mouth care and denture care. Continue to use spectacles and hearing aids unless they find them very uncomfortable or become a hazard.
6. Incontinence and the bedridden
Here are some links for more information:
Caregiver Skills for Managing Fecal Incontinence in Middle and Late Stage Alzheimer's
7. Decrease the incidence of injury
Put their bed mattress and springs on the floor if they are prone to falls. Use appropriate support and bed cot sides. I do not believe that restraint should be used unless in an emergency and only then for a very brief period of time.
More about restraint:
One of many research paper on the complex issues of Physical Restraint Use on People with Dementia
8. Massage and touch
Massage can be soothing and give pain relief. Massage arms, hands, legs with oil/moisturizer. It can improve also skin tone and prevent dryness and irritation.
Touch is an important sense. Stroking and hair brushing can be very reassuring and lets the person know there is someone who cares for them and is looking after their needs.
9. Focus on things they still enjoy
Small activities should still continue. Talk to them, show them pictures/photos they used to enjoy, play music etc. Try to continue activities they used to enjoy as much as possible. Try to get them outside. Getting a little fresh air and feeling sun on the skin can be very therapeutic.
10. A room with a view
Put their bed by the window so they can see out. Remember to protect them from sun glare and heat as the sun rotates in the day and evening.
More Information About Caregiving For Bedridden People with Alzheimer's