How to care for a bedridden patient

Updated November 21, 2016

A bedridden patient requires constant supervision and care. When caring for someone at home, you may want to enlist the help of other family members to give you a break when feeling overwhelmed. One of the biggest concerns with a bedridden patient is the development of bedsores. Bedsores tend to develop where the skin rests close to the bone, such as the hip or tailbone. If you notice skin that becomes red, notify your doctor of these changes.

Bathe the patient when he's unable to bathe himself. Bathing should be carried out daily, indicates the World Health Organization. Fill a large container filled with warm water and bathe the patient with soap. Use a wash cloth to gently wash the patient's face and entire body. Pat the skin dry with a towel.

Apply lotion to the patient's body after bathing. Rub the patient's back, which can help against the development of bedsores. Lotion hands and feet often when these parts of the body are dry. This prevents skin cracking.

Brush the patient's teeth, especially after meals. Also brush debris off the patient's tongue using the toothbrush. Offer mouthwash to rinse with, if the patient wants it.

Brush the patient's hair regularly to prevent tangles. This will also sooth, as well as maintain morale for the patient.

Groom nails as needed. Trim long fingernails and smooth them with a nail file.

Help the patient use the rest room when needed. Offer a bed pan or assist the patient to the rest room if she can walk. If the patient wears adult diapers, change the diaper when it becomes soiled.

Reposition the patient every one to two hours to prevent bedsores, advises the WHO. You can use pillows to help keep the person in place. If possible, help the patient to sit up in a chair every now and then.

Change bed sheets often or daily if the bedsheets become soiled. Using plastic bed sheets can help make cleaning easier. Rotate the bed once a week.

Remove wrinkles from bedsheets. Removing wrinkles, especially underneath the patient, can prevent rubbing against the skin. Provide blankets when the patient gets cold.

Offer small and frequent meals throughout the day. Provide nutritional foods, such as fruit and whole grain foods.

Sit and talk with the patient to provide comfort. Offer to put together a puzzle or read a book.


Alert your doctor if a patient rapidly loses weight. Never rub any pink spots on the skin, which could be sores. This can result in skin damage. Don't allow a patient to sit in their own waste.

Things You'll Need

  • Soap
  • Water
  • Large container
  • Wash cloth
  • Towel
  • Lotion
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Brush
  • Nail clipper
  • Nail file
  • Bed pan
  • Adult diaper
  • Pillows
  • Chair
  • Bed sheets
  • Plastic bed sheets
  • Blankets
  • Puzzles
  • Books
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