A severely debilitating illness or chronic pain is often devastating for everyone involved. Your loved ones may feel they have little recourse but to see you suffer even as they provide what care they can, whilst you yourself wrestle with frustration, boredom, and money issues. It’s important that you do what you can to keep yourself focused and centered while bedridden or confined to a home hospital bed.
Here are some invaluable tips in that regard.
Keep Your Hygiene Up
As a whole, hygiene seriously impacts how someone with a chronic illness feels, copes, and – in some circumstances – survives. Unfortunately, this isn’t always something you can achieve on your own. Many debilitating health conditions tend to fluctuate wildly in severity.
One a good day, you may be able to bathe, attend to your dental care and hair grooming, and be able to dress in fresh clothing on your own. A bad day, however, your symptoms may be so severe that you require the assistance of your caregiver simply to go to the bathroom.
Still, feeling fresh, clean, and put-together not only helps you stay healthy but also can work wonders for your confidence and self-esteem.
Exercise in Bed
Pressure sores and ulcers are common in bedbound patients and can lead to serious health concerns. This includes cellulitis, necrotizing fasciitis, and meningitis, to name just a few. The good news is that the frequency at which these injuries occur can be significantly reduced with relative ease.
You may consider utilizing foam ramps to change the angle at which you’re laying, or regular rotation to prevent the formation of these ulcers. Our therapeutic PressureGuard mattresses can also help with automatic rotation and movement for bedbound patients to help prevent these pressure sores and skin conditions.
It’s also advisable to practice simple in-bed exercises like arm lifts and leg lifts, which are done by extending a limb and holding it for a set amount of time. In addition to increasing blood flow to the skin and lessening the likelihood of bedsores, this can also be a great way of strengthening the body. You might also consider palm stretching or plantarflexion-dorsiflexion stretches, eventually graduating to simple yoga exercises.
Light exercise is especially important if you have limb/nerve damage or are suffering from a condition like diabetes mellitus.
It’s about more than just your body, though. Performing light stretching and exercise every few hours is also a great mood booster. Note, however, that you should consult a licensed caregiver or health practitioner before beginning a new exercise regime.
Engage Your Brain
For many of us, we’re happiest when we’re actively learning. To that end, giving yourself something to focus on can both help you keep your brain sharp while also staving off boredom. There are a variety of things you can pursue in that regard – we’ve listed a few suggestions below.
- Learn a few words in a different language. This can also work if you’re a caregiver for an elderly patient, who may regress to their native language upon becoming frustrated or overstimulated. Learning basic terms and phrases can help you understand how to better care for them.
- Play brain games or riddles, like sudoku or word searches.
- Write something. Anything. It could be a poem, a letter, or simply a stream of consciousness.
Find Small Pleasures Where You Can
Are you in love with a particular type of chocolate? Are you a fan of a certain kind of drink or food? Do you enjoy scented candles or having your nails painted?
Indulge yourself. Making a point of seeking out the things that make you happy wherever and whenever you can (within reason and the approval of a licensed professional, of course). Your caregiver might compile a list of your favorite recipes from your childhood which can then be shared with the rest of the family – something which can be especially meaningful if the love of food and cooking is part of your culture.
Seek Creative Outlets
Learning a new hobby or art form can be both physically and mentally stimulating. Initially, you’ll be able to focus on learning the fundamentals, which should keep you engaged for a fair bit of time. Once you gain a bit more experience you’re also planning out designs, engaging your body and mind in some light activity, and giving yourself an outlet for any strong emotions you may be feeling.
The sky’s the limit where creativity is concerned, and possible activities include:
- Putting together kits such as birdhouses/bird perches.
- Building models.
- Learning a new musical instrument.
Maintain a Garden
Consider purchasing a zen garden, a succulent garden, or a bonsai tree that you can place next to your bed. Not only will it add a bit of much-needed greenery to your surroundings (something which has been proven to improve one’s mood), it can also be a great comfort to you if you were a gardener before your illness became too severe. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t occasionally try to go outside if your condition allows for it.
Daylight and a routine schedule can help you maintain a healthy circadian rhythm, providing a source of health-essential vitamin D, and fresh air is always good for you.
The Importance of Independence While Bedridden
We’re going to wrap up with a few critical words of advice directed at people who are caring for bedridden loved ones. For many patients who are bedbound, their greatest wish is to feel normal again. It’s embarrassing to be perpetually exhausted, ready to collapse even if the only strenuous thing you did was take a shower.
The monotony can be even worse. Constantly seeing the same four walls, eating the same range of meals, and requiring assistance for even the most menial tasks can seriously wear on a persons’s sense of identity and wellbeing. As a caregiver, consider laying out a small task that your loved one can accomplish on their own – a hairbrush, perhaps, or a smartphone so they can browse social media.
In short, give them ways to independently fulfill at least a few of their needs, and don’t try to do absolutely everything for them.