Assisting a relative or friend who is forced to spend all their time in bed can be challenging, and you might find yourself a bit unsure of how to properly care for them. Hygiene is incredibly important and can help prevent bed sores and infections, so care and attention should be taken to help them keep clean. Here are some important ways you can promote good hygiene for a bed-bound senior.
Keep the Bedding Clean
Changing the sheets and bedding on a bed-bound senior’s bed is of the utmost importance since they’re spending almost all their time in the bed, and their bedding is collecting all sorts of bacteria, dead skin cells, mites and even fungi. This bedding needs to be changed at least twice a week, though it’s recommended to do it every second day if possible. A hospital style bed makes many tasks easier as you can wheel it around if needed. It also can be more comfortable and practical for the occupant if they’re able to adjust the tilt of the head side of the bed for meals and dental care.
While you’re changing the bedding, give the whole room a general tidy, vacuum any carpets, dust the surfaces and declutter.
Bathe as Often as Possible
Keeping the skin clean and properly washed is one of the most important things you can do for a bed-bound senior. If they’re able to do it themselves then encourage them to do so, but if not, you’ll need to do it for them.
Whether they’re able to wash or you need to wash them, the process and what you need is the same.
- At least two bath towels
- Some facecloths
- Soft sponges
- A bucket of water that is at a comfortable temperature for the patient
- Some non-allergenic soap
- A very gentle moisturiser
Start with their face and wash each part of the body carefully, drying and moisturising as you go. Pay extra attention to folds, making sure they are thoroughly dry before moving on.
Trim Their Nails
Nailbeds are a breeding ground for bacteria because dirt gets trapped easily under the nails. Keeping nails short and clean is very important for bed-bound seniors because if they scratch themselves open, you don’t want the bacteria from underneath the nails entering the open wound. It’s important therefore that you keep their nails trimmed and neatly filed.
Brush Their Teeth
Just like your own teeth, seniors need theirs brushed two or even three times a day. Make this task part of mealtime and help them brush their teeth right after meals. Include at least daily flossing into the routine too. Many bed-bound seniors are able to brush their own teeth, so if they can then you need only supply the toothbrush, toothpaste, a glass of water and something to spit into.
You need a good amount of patience and understanding to care for the elderly, as they can become frustrated because they can’t accomplish things on their own. If you’re tasked with their care, try to remember that they’d much rather be doing everything themselves.