Without cognitive problems, your senior might understand that she needs to shift her position frequently, especially if she’s bedridden. But with dementia, your elderly family member might not get why you’re helping her adjust her position all day. She might even try to make the task more difficult, which isn’t good for either of you.
Protect Yourself as You Help Her to Move
One of the biggest problems you face when you’re trying to help someone to be comfortable is that you’ve got your own limitations. You need to respect your own strength and abilities when you’re trying to help your senior to shift positions. Make sure you’re lifting with your knees and legs, not with your back. Have someone show you the proper body mechanics beforehand.
Prioritize Position Changes
You want to make sure your senior is comfortable, of course, but there are other considerations, too. Your senior’s skin is more susceptible to pressure sores the closer she is to the end of her life. With the complications of dementia, it’s more difficult for her to let you know when she’s uncomfortable or when a particular area is in pain. It’s up to you to help her to change her position every couple of hours to help avoid these difficulties.
Look for Cushioning Equipment
You might want to look for cushions, mattresses, and other tools that can help your senior to maintain positions comfortably. These can also help to reduce the risk of her developing pressure sores. In a pinch, even a rolled-up blanket or towel can also help. Consider using soft blankets and sheets over these cushions and mattresses, too.
Offer Her Something Else to Hold While You Help Her to Move
Your senior may not be able to understand what’s happening when you’re helping her to shift position. Or she might understand but still try to reach out to you and grasp you in a way that makes your task more difficult and more dangerous for both of you. Handing her something that she can hold first, like a favorite blanket or stuffed animal, keeps her hands occupied and allows you to have more freedom of movement.
You may feel as if you’re out of your element with this situation, which is where end-of-life care providers can be even more helpful. They can help you to recognize when your senior isn’t comfortable and show you what to do in order to change the situation for her.