Tips for managing your life in bed
They say it must be nice to stay in bed all day. Really? Have they never wanted to do more? When you have no choice it’s very different.
— Tentacle Sixteen (@latentexistence) August 15, 2013
One of our loyal Trabasaxons has recently written a post giving fantastic hints and tips for people who have to spend a lot of time in bed. Danni wrote the post Perfecting Bed Life earlier this month and this post is inspired by her wonderful work with a few added tips of our own.
Living with M.E. has meant Danni, in her own words, has ‘spent nearly every moment’ in bed for the past few months. Despite this she’s adapted and her post on how to make the best of managing your life from bed is extremely inspiring and we couldn’t help but highlight and share some of her top tips. Danni highlights a wide range of valuable products and ideas which can make living from bed a little easier.
Essential Gadgets for Long Term Stays in Bed
Getting used to an adapting to living from bed is difficult but here are a few tips that could be considered essential to your new routine and lifestyle.
Danni recommends investing in an over-bed table to make accessing things you need regularly easier. It’s also helpful for watching and using multimedia devices up close. An over-bed table falls short when sitting up becomes an issue and Danni suggests using your Trabasack in this case and a Trabasack is also an affordable alternative if you’re not sure about the space for an over-bed table in your home.
Danni also recommends another of our favourite products – the Hydrant, for drinking from bed as it stops the risk of any spills and they can be bought in large sizes. Replacement ends are needed when the device has been used regularly for a number of months. Hydrants are now used by the NHS to help ensure patients are kept hydrated in hospitals.
We also like the handsteady drinking cup that allows you tilt the cup right back using the rotating handle.
Another simple yet essential tip from Danni is her suggestion that you should have as much stuff as you possibly can within reach. It’s not always possible or appropriate to call someone to get stuff for you and maintains a degree of independence. This could mean having shelves installed near your bed or putting key items on the bed next to you where there’s space. Bedside tables are ideal for storing snacks and medication.
From a personal perspective it makes sense to keep the room as nice as you possibly can. Danni highlights that some people need rooms to be non-stimulating but others can benefit from nice pictures or being able to see out of the window.
Exercise and Pressure Sores in Bed
Another essential key point is to remember to keep moving as much as you can. It is very easy to slip into the habit of staying still once you’re living from bed but as Danni warns, bed sores are a genuine risk. If you can move yourself it’s best to try to do so as much as you can, whether it’s wriggling, rolling or whatever is best for your circumstances. If you’re unable to do this then it’s essential you have help to move position every two hours or so. Some people use sliding sheets or towels to help them roll and move in bed with the help of another person.
Bed sores or to use their technical name pressure sores develop when a large amount of pressure is applied to an area of skin over a short period of time. They can become extremely painful and hard to manage and therefore keeping active from bed, in any way you can, really is essential. As Danni also mentions, a low cost idea is using a sheepskin can help with making the bed softer. If you do not move much and are spending long periods in bed it would be good to also ask your occupational therapist about a special mattress or even an inflating one.
Keeping in Touch
Our final essential point is to ensure you have an effective way of contacting your carers. This could be via a telephone, computer or if you live alone a panic button or cord. Wireless doorbells are another way of connecting with someone who may be in another room when you need support.
Here we’re once again taking inspiration for Danni and covering some of the ways to make your long-term stay in bed as comfortable as possible.
Comfort is one of your top priorities and as Danni says ‘most clothes are not comfortable for lying in’ and there are clothes which are better. It’s understandable you may not always want to wear pyjamas and t-shirts and leggings make a good combo. Danni also makes the great point of saying a cardigan or zip-up hoodie is a better option than a jumper as it’s easier to take on and off.
Cushions and pillows are also great for comfort and u-shaped body pillows, often marketed as maternity products, can be a great option. They can be very supportive and can help you sit up if you find it difficult. The types of cushion and pillow which suit you will be very personal and you may want to try out different types.
Danni also highlights her trademark microwaveable penguins as great for keeping warm if you have difficulty moderating your body temperature. They can also ease chronic pain and aches of different kinds and if you don’t fancy a penguin there are plenty of microwaveable body wraps and other animal characters too.
Your personal care is a very private and personal affair but there may be elements you need help and support with, especially if you’re unable to get to the bathroom.
Bed baths are great but as Danni says if it’s not always practical then bath in bed wipes are a good alternative. They’re large and designed for getting fully washed in bed – they also avoid the need to be dried afterwards.
Hair can be another issue, Danni went for the chop to make managing easier but there are options for keeping your hair clean. Dry shampoo works for a few days but isn’t a long-term solution.
No rinse shampoos
exist too to avoid excess grease or you can buy a shampoo cap. An inflatable basin is the best option for proper hair washing, along with lots of towels to ensure you don’t soak your bed right through. A waterproof mattress protector is a complete essential and guarantees your mattress doesn’t need replacing regularly.
Toileting in Bed
Toileting is another personal care issue you’ll need to handle and as Danni says for most people it’ll mean using a bedpan or incontinence pads. It’s not the most pleasant of issues but it is something you have to deal with. If you can manage a commode then this is a good option and there are personal toilets such as the Uriwell range which can be useful. There are a range of different bedpans on the market and as with the pillows it’s worth finding out which is best to suit your needs.
Entertainments and Extras
Keeping entertained and motivated is one of the main concerns if you’re living from bed. Mental stimulation may not always be something you need dependent on your illness but keeping entertained is key to avoiding further problems such as depression.
Danni highlights a laptop, tablet or internet connected phone as a hugely valuable resource as it gives you access to social networks, games and you can stream television and films. What works best for you will depend on the level of fine motor skills you have maintained and if you need further support your Trabasack and Media Mount combined can keep your tablet or smartphone perfectly in position.
A tablet is a great idea. You can watch films, talk to friends via social media and email and listen to music using something lightweight like a kindle fire. if you like to read as you can access the Kindle app and read to your heart’s content when you’re well enough. If you are reading a traditional book there is the Page Keeper that can help keep track and hold your page open. Danni also recommends the uniquely designed SleepPhones as they’re designed to be worn in bed so extra comfortable.
Additional extra can include everything from an eye mask to make sleep even more restful to fans to keep you cool in summer, which can be no mean feat when living from bed. Other gadgets you could consider include remote controlled lights and electric switches and this makes another job which you may have relied on others for something you can do yourself.
The Most Important Point of All
Taking Danni’s word once more:
Try to remain positive. Living in bed is not the end of the world. It may not be what you choose but it doesn’t have to be completely negative. I find joy in many things while being in bed, and though I do want to get out and back into my wheelchair, it hasn’t been all bad. Bringing my computer in here so I could use it in bed was one of the best decisions we made.
Your Tips for Making the Best of Long Term Stays in Bed
Please share any tips or gadgets that you find useful or any comments that you would like to share below.