Health Care

How to Care for a Bedridden Patient



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"How to Care for a Bedridden Patient"
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Being bedridden is one instance where people feel helpless as well as at times hopeless. Thus, presenting these patients with tender loving care would go a long way in easing their suffering both physically as well as mentally.

When considering the bedridden patients, in most instances, these patients would be in the elderly age group and many causes such as 'strokes' or in other words 'paralyses', accidents, nerve degeneration...etc could lead to such bedridden state.

When an elderly patient becomes bedridden, it can be compared to being in a 'new borne' state. Some of the similarities between the two would be the helplessness, need to be cared for and to receive love and affection. Thus, the caregivers need to think of their actions for a second time before embarking on it, as a false move can be detrimental to the patient as they are in a delicate state.

Therefore, a caregiver should know what areas that they should address when taking care of an elderly bedridden patient.

These would be:

1. Physical care

2. Nutrition

3. Hygiene

4. Specific medical problems

5. Psychological support

6. Understanding

If these needs are met, a person can provide an efficient as well as a perfect care towards a bedridden elderly patient.

Now we will look into each aspect of care and would discuss what can be done to achieve such states.

1. Physical care

A patient who is bedridden should always be encouraged to move their limbs and the caregiver should give the patient passive stimuli or support in order to prevent frozen joints, immobility, clot formation in the legs as well as to re-train the nerves in order to transmit signals if they are recoverable.

Another important aspect in physical care would be the necessity to change the patient#s position at least every 2 hours. This is used in order to prevent continuous pressure causing the skin to deprive of blood supply and thus damage to the skin tissues. Thus, frequent turning of the patient or change of position would reduce the occurrence of ulcers in the skin.

2. Nutrition

Looking after the patients nutritional needs are absolutely vital in promoting good health of a bedridden patient. In certain instances, these patients might not be able to swallow and thus would require either Nasogastric feeds or parenteral feeds. By whatever means of feeding, the patients are required to be given adequate amounts of proteins, carbohydrates as well as fats to a lesser degree.

It's important to remember that these patients are more prone to aspirate what was eaten or things that get regurgitated and such incidence should be avoided at all times. Giving frequent small meals than a single large meal, proper positioning at the time of feeding as well as soon after the feeds, avoiding giving meals at times of drowsiness or cough...etc would be safe practices to prevent aspiration and related complications.

Another important aspect needing attention would be to prevent patients from being constipated and thus leading to discomfort in the abdomen. Adding more fruits, fiber containing foods as well as adequate amounts of fluids will prevent such conditions from occurring.

3. Hygiene

Proper care on the patients hygiene would go a long way in preventing many associated illnesses such as Candida infections, urinary infections, gastroenteritis, infected skin ulcers...etc. Thus, giving adequate oral care through brushing and flossing the teeth, gums and the tongue, washing the body daily and a bath at least every other day, changing the diapers frequently if its being used, keeping the nails short and preventing the sweat from building in certain places are several of the multitude of hygienic practices that needs to be done in such patients.

4. Specific medical problems

These would need giving the patient medications at the correct time according to prescriptions and looking for any changes related to the problem. Depending on the underlying medical problems, the nutrition as well as other practices may also need to be adjusted.

5. Psychological support

These patients are more likely to develop depression and other psychological disturbances and thus would require good understanding by the caregivers. They should be treated with love and compassion and they should feel the tender, loving, care which they expect from their caregivers. When the caregivers are family members, the patients will feel happier as they are being taken care of by their loved once. In certain instances, these patients might need to undergo psychological therapy or medications.

6. Understanding

Unless there is a good understanding between the caregiver and the patient, there would not be a proper care taking place and it might lead to many complications which can be either physical or mental. Thus, most often, it is the caregivers that need to understand what the patients are going through and to make their agony as minimal as possible.

More about this author: Dr Pandula Siribaddana

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