I started this out as another phase in my time with Nana but it ended up as something that does need to be addressed. So you will notice a shift in this section that starts out light hearted and then turns to a more serious nature.
Nana doesn’t seem to bothered by being bedridden, I know she gets a little bored but she doesn’t always seem to remember that she is in the bed all day. Going on hospice, simply because she is bedridden and we are unable to bathe her properly, has been a big help.
She enjoys the company, hates the hair washing though. I get tickled because she tries to talk us out of washing her hair. She says “I just washed it this morning”, and in all actuality it was a week ago. Two baths a week, Monday and Friday.
She has started this type of usage with her right hand, at times both but mainly the right. For example she will be pulling her covers up toward her stomach thinking she is sorting fabric and matching pieces.
“Do these pieces match, I need some larger pieces?” or “Do you think this will be a pretty dress for a little girl?”
After a while she will forget what she is doing and leave the covers alone and I will spread them back out over her cool, thin legs. She will relax for a short period of time and begin again with the same movements, experience or maybe something different.
Always wanting to take care of the little kids, making them clothes for Christmas and collecting toys was a favorite bedridden past-time. Before the Alzheimer’s she would go to nursing homes and take food and gifts. So she was always loving people and helping them. Now even with her brain deteriorating she still does the same thing.
We are having to really watch her bottom, due to her being bedridden she is very prone to bedsores. We notice them starting and have to make sure she is alternating from being on her back to being on her left side, then to her back again and then to her right side. Every two hours unless she gets too irritable, then at least an hour. Bedsores are awful and it takes people who care and that will pay attention to the patient.
We use Z-Guard and ordered an air-mattress for her to help prevent further sores from even starting. Z-Guard is a paste that you can get at any health care store and Wal-Mart, spread it on any place that is in question or as a prevention. It works wonders, plus it is waterproof.
The mattress, APP (Air Pressure Pad) worked well but was for someone who had more meat on their bones. Nana not eating as much as she was has started loosing weight and needs more padding. So the next mattress was the Low Air Loss, it was the best one for Nana. Although a lot more expensive than the $100 APP, was worth the money to help her to be most comfortable and keep from having sores. Also getting a foam wedge pillow to place under Nana’s lower back to keep her bottom up off the bed. Those pressure points need lifting.
(I am going to be quite blunt here for a second; someone getting bedsores is pretty easy to do. It helps you to realize that the patient needs to be turned more often especially when they can’t turn themselves. Check them every day for sores, a small red spot is the start. Once spotted take care of it. It is the loved one, the caregiver, or the nurse that is responsible for the treatment and outcome of those places, no excuses.)
As I said before, with Nana being bedridden with Alzheimer’s, for the most part she was very comfortable and didn’t realize that she was in the bed all of the time. In late stages of Alzheimer’s they may not know that their surroundings constantly stay the same because their minds are constantly doing and working on things of the younger years or even things that they have never done. Which is a good thing for them and the caregivers.
Nana thinks she is shopping, sewing, gardening or cooking pretty much all of the time. That makes me happy, I love her and want her happy as long as she can be.
If you are everyday paying attention to your patient, then you are probably able to catch on to some things that are wrong or bothering them. For one instance, Nana wasn’t really in the mood to eat and she kept turning her head to the left side, she wasn’t able to explain to me what was wrong. She kept closing her eyes, so I got close to her face and asked her what was wrong, the only thing is that she would say is
“I’m not hungry, I don’t feel good today.”
As she said this, I was close enough to tell when she opened her eyes that she had something tiny and white in the inside corner of her eye. I got a tissue and wiped the white particle. When I did, the tissue lifted the particle and a long strand of lint. You know the feel of something being in your eye and then it being removed, Nana immediately started batting her eyes. I asked her if that felt better,
she said “Yes, thank you.”
That was what was bothering her. That piece of lint was the culprit. After that she was in a good mood and ate her lunch. Always pay attention and try so very hard to be patient. Their lack of words are what we have to listen to. If there is a fever or irritability it could easily be a UTI, they can’t tell you that either. Please pay attention to them as if they are your child or parent, which very well could be.
Have a good time with the patient as long as that time is offered. Make them laugh when you can. We wad a napkin up and throw it at each other or sing, whatever you can find to try. They are worth it.
(Bedsores are pressure points where the patient is laying and their skin is touching the bed. Such as; the head, ears, shoulders & blades, sides, tailbone, waistline, hips, thighs, calves, ankles, heels, and tops of the feet. Poor nutrition can also add to the patients skin breakdown, make sure they have a proper healthy diet if possible. Protein and vitamins are crucial to their health.)