People who are confined to bed for long periods of time because of diagnosis or frailty often experience severe mood swings. They get tired of sitting or lying down, become bored with life and miss social contact with others.
In nursing homes, these residents sometimes have mild dementia and other times more serious conditions. They often do not move from their beds unless staff place them on a wheelchair or 'comfy' chair and take them for a walk.
For these residents, the most important thing you can do is to give them your undivided attention as frequently as possible. Let them know that they are loved and valued; that they have not been forgotten. If you don't have the time, find a volunteer to help you.
Here are some one-on-one activities and ideas you can use to make the most of the time you have with them. Adjust them to suit your residents.
1. Learn some words in a new language
Learn a few words from different languages to communicate with your non-English speaking residents. Simple sentences such as 'good morning', 'hello', 'hungry?', 'are you in pain?'. Look for someone to teach you the proper pronunciation. Learning to say some words in a new language is fun!
2. Enjoy some brain games
Books of riddles / quizzes / word searches / sudoku and arithmetic logic are available at Newspaper shops. They provide endless hours of entertainment and fun; they are also inexpensive. Sit with your resident and work on a riddle or word search together to inspire them.
Related: Collection of Riddles
3. Write a letter or read a poem
Find out if your client would like to write a card or a letter to a friend or relative. Encourage and assist with this task. Also, read some poems to your client; Poems about friendship, Mother's and Father's Day, love, comic poems, limericks etc. It is a good topic of conversation and excellent for reminiscing.
Related: Poetry to Share
4. Visit the garden
It is important that people unable to ambulate by themselves spend some time outdoors on a daily basis (not in the sun). Daylight helps maintain their circadian clock and absorb Vitamin D, while at the same time enjoying the sights and sounds of the outdoors.
Related: Outdoor Activities
5. Provide a bird companion
Some residents enjoy solitary pursuits and some have probably been loners all their lives. A feisty budgie would be a great companion and distraction in the privacy of their own room. This activity would require a staff member or volunteer to assist with cleaning the cage on a regular basis.
6. Entertain with old time movies & tv shows
Offer magazines, books and DVDs of their choice. Ask relatives what TV shows and movies they enjoyed, what kind of music and films they like etc. If possible watch the movie yourself and have a discussion about it later.
7. Offer comfort gifts
Gifts such as warm socks, satin pillows, tote bags, a baby blanket (for sensory stimulation and warming hands in the winter months) are suitable.
Related: How to Make TwiddleMuffs
8. Provide a relaxing massage
Before giving a massage to bedfast residents, consult senior health staff. There are some contra-indications to be careful of. Use pure essential oils mixed with a base of sweet almond oil or avocado oil. A hand or foot massage provides comfort, may relieve pain and is a good time to have a chat.
Related: Aromatherapy for the Elderly
9. Indulge in some delicious food
Find out what they love to eat - perhaps a different dessert or something typical to their country and offer it to them. If you have multi-cultural residents, you may engage the relatives in this activity by asking them to participate in a group cooking session with a popular national dish from their country.
Related: Cooking Activities
10. Get active with upper body exercises
Playing balloons one-on-one is a good upper body exercise. Singing songs with actions is another way to exercise the upper body; Songs such as: ‘YMCA’ and ‘Macarena’ are good to start with.
Related: Activities Incorporating Exercise
11. Become a beauty therapist for the ladies
Moisturize their faces, comb their hair, do their nails and put on some lipstick if they like it. Tender loving care does wonders for people confined to bed for long periods of time.
Related: Beauty Therapy Activity
12. Make paper airplanes with the men
Learn how to make some interesting paper airplanes and spend some time with your client making them.
Related: Paper Planes Reminiscing Game
13. Stimulate the sense with mobiles and wind chimes
Hang mobiles of birds, nature, African animals, cars, fishes and children from the ceiling so the resident has a nice view of something interesting. Change it weekly.
Related: Sensory Stimulation with Wind Chimes
14. Play Music
Music reduces stress and lifts spirits. The radio should be tuned into a station of their choice or if possible, provide them with an ipod with a playlist of music from their youth. If they speak a language other than English, borrow CDs from your local library with music from their country.
15. Put together some jigsaw puzzles
Large jigsaw puzzles with 16 to 24 pieces are ideal for the bed side table. Find puzzles with beautiful images for reminiscing - scenery, animals or even tools and objects from the past.
Remember the best gift you can give a person with limited mobility is the gift of your time; just being there to hear them or hold their hand.
We'd love to hear your feedback!
What activities have you found to work well for people confined to bed?