Does anyone have a practical solution when needing to turn (re-position) an elderly parent during the night on a regular basis? - AgingCare.com

Does anyone have a practical solution when needing to turn (re-position) an elderly parent during the night on a regular basis?

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Does anyone have a practical solution when needing to manually reposition someone in bed every couple hours thru the night on a regular basis to prevent bedsores? Any thoughts on how to lessen the impact to your own sleep?

My 88-year-old dad has an adjustable TempurPedic, but we have been told that we still need to reposition him every so often during the night (turning left or right, adding pillows for support, and so on.) to prevent a constant pressure to one area of skin. I've also purchased a ROHO cushion for his recliner and wheelchair. (My dad's doctor said even with the ROHO, Dad needs to shift his position now and then while sitting and to get up from the chair more often.)

The ROHO and the repositioning at night seem to be helping and a large, purple discolored area on his buttocks--that we are told is the last stage before a bedsore could develop--has thankfully turned from purple to pink--and in some spots to a normal skin tone--over a period of maybe six weeks.

Unfortunately the sleep interruption every few hours has been a bit of an adjustment for me and I'm also not getting as much sleep overall. Sometimes Dad wakes up when I go to turn him and then he wants something and it might be half an hour or more before I'm back in my own bed. Other times I just can't get back to sleep for some reason once I'm up, especially after the 3 a.m. turn.

Things are busy during the day and I can't always catch a nap to make up for it. My mom is 87 and needs her sleep. We do have a caregiving agency, but we already use them about 20 hours a week for our daytime needs. It would be a big expense to have them come every night as well.

The only thing I can think of is maybe a therapeutic air mattress like is used in a hospital or rehab setting. My understanding is that if you have this type of air mattress then there is no need to reposition at all, since the mattress inflates/deflates on a set schedule to prevent a constant pressure to any one area of skin. But it may be too difficult for someone with my dad's level of mobility to get out of this type of bed in the morning by himself without being lifted; I'm not all that strong in my arms and may not be able to help get him up.

Wondering if there are better solutions out there... your thoughts and suggestions greatly appreciated.

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The alternating air mattresses are good and you have been given a good link and explanation. What about putting a timer on it so that it goes during the night but is turned off and deflates when you are getting the person up and out of bed, Its very important that you get a decent sleep yourself, I feel for all those caring for their parent. I personally don't have a house that my Ma could even get into and its not safe for her in her demented state to be in. So yes she is in a dementia unit.
so its very important that you do care for the carer.
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There exists a special air mattress that has pockets of air, with a motor that hangs on the end of a hospital bed. Throughout the night, the motor fills and deflates areas of the pockets, effectively and gently repositioning your loved one. I've seen it work with 2 end of life loved ones of my own.
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yay!!!
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Update for dad and I...my dad is bedridden mostly due to declining health, so I did want to mention We purchased one of those rotating alternating pressure mattresses. I am so grateful. During the day I manually turn him (by choice)while the bed stays mostly flat position, and at night, thankfully, I can turn on the rotation feature and his skin looks great. this has been 5 months of use and has been a real blessing for me, as now, I do not have to get up at night anymore... well Im here to tell you they are worth the money ....WORTH IT.
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We found a Med-Air adjustable/alternating bubble topper through amazon for under $80. It's been a lifesaver for overnights. Our greater challenge is for daytime in her recliner. So far, nothing we've tried works, except changing her position (which is, in the long run, ok .. since getting her active and moving during the day is a good thing).
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Thanks much to all who have posted. Here's an updated summary of what we tried over the last few months and the solution that has worked.

- As mentioned, the ROHO cushion on Dad's recliner/wheelchair we got improved his skin condition somewhat. But in the weeks that followed we saw no additional improvement--it seemed to level off.

- I continued repositioning overnight, but it eventually caught up with me and I no longer felt with it during the day. Sometimes I had trouble remembering this and that as I went about my daily tasks. This concerned me, both for my own health and because I need to stay on top of things for my parents.

- I eventually purchased a ROHO overlay for Dad's mattress (big, static air pockets). This appeared to help relieve pressure overnight. When Dad would get up in the morning, I noticed the area tended to look better than the night before. When I tried lying on the overlay myself, I hated getting back up--it was kinda like lying on air!

- I then asked Dad's dermatologist to look at the area on his buttocks. She told us that we needed to handle this pressure situation more aggressively to avoid it turning into a bedsore. She recommended turning overnight, but I explained that with the ROHO overlay in place it wasn't even physically possible for me to reposition Dad in bed. (I had tried this when we first got the ROHO overlay, but no luck.) She then suggested focusing on a better solution during the day and said if we got that part resolved, maybe repositioning at night wouldn't be necessary.

- I then started researching online the alternating-air cushions for wheelchairs/recliners There weren't all that many advertised online and none on Amazon. The prices were pretty ugly. I was also concerned because some of the customer reviews were negative in terms of reliability, ability to reach the sellers for resolution of a problem, etc. Eventually I chose a product from the Ease Cushion website. It had the most consistent, positive customer reviews I had found and extensive technical details about their product. They had me talk with their engineer about Dad's particular needs first and he recommended for Dad the Ease Cushion Stage 1 Overlay with Answer Pump. I chose the waterproof version. (The Stage 1 Overlay is actually one of their lower-priced models. Some of the alternating-air cushions on various websites run as high as two or three thousand dollars--or more.) Their engineer had me go to another of their websites to view its product details; he felt we'd be happier with their Answer Pump because it's portable and doesn't have to be plugged into a wall socket while in use.) Dad uses it about 12 hours a day and it sits on top of a regular foam cushion. The battery stays charged for about a week. It's nice because we can take it to doctor visits, restaurants, etc. and not have to worry anymore that Dad is sitting too long in one place.

- After a week or so of using the Ease Cushion Stage 1 Overlay, we started noticing improvement in Dad's skin tone. Occasionally I'd see flesh colored skin where there was previously red, even after he'd been sitting for long periods of time like an hour or so. This continued to improve so that there was eventually only a very small area of purple surrounded by flesh-colored skin.

- Yesterday we saw Dad's dermatologist again for a different skin issue. While he was being seen, I asked her to look at Dad's buttocks. She said the skin is back to normal now--no remaining pressure issue. Hurray!

I am so grateful we eventually found something that worked to resolve this skin issue--and works good enough during the day that I don't need to reposition overnight anymore. I've seen photos of what pressure sores look like and how bad they can get and have had friends tell me about the horrors of their loved one's pressure sore, and I sure didn't want that to happen to my dad.
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EVERYTHING HERE HAS BEEN A BLESSING! my brother and I have been moving our dad back and forth for almost 22 months in our homes due to him being 24/7 care...just yesterday, my brother says he quit. so because I DO NOT want to throw my dad in a nursing home, ive been trying frantically to find out if these beds will allow you to sleep and then the rest of the day will be do able. before ive spent every month hes here getting up at 12,3, and then 6. then your day begins...VERY HARD on my wellbeing physical and mental...I am recooping and also stressing wondering how I will accomplish this alone. I am going to GET ONE OF THESE BEDS. GOD BLESS YOU
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I'd vote for the alternating air mattress and gradually reduce repositioning to just once a night as skin tolerance permits.
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My mom just got an alternating air mattress that actually inflates and deflates in such a manner that she is being constantly repositioned yet not disturbed in any way and I don't have to do a thing to help. The mattress does it all.

It is called an Apex Neo-Turn 5300 and Medicare is covering it because mom developed a couple of pressure ulcers because of after now becoming bed bound from two broken hips (couldn't walk after the last one) and then broke her arm a few weeks ago (forgot she couldn't walk!) and even though she's always had great circulation and avoided breakdown before, I had her so doped up on Lortab for the pain and was busier than a one-armed paper hanger, I totally forgot to check her heels and they got bad. They are healing up as soon as I got the pressure off them, which I did as soon as it was brought to my attention (but at that moment I wanted to just die! I couldn't believe I had let that happen!).

But those ulcers were a blessing in disguise because my mom doesn't like to lay any way except on her back and anytime I tried to turn her on her side, she cried until I relented. She's good. ;-)

So getting this bed was the best thing so far that we've gotten to improve both of our qualities of life...she stays on her back and the bed gently turns her from side to side but the cells under her head are static so she doesn't feel sea-sick or anything like that. And there are cells on either side at the edge that stay inflated so that she doesn't roll into the rails on the bed. When we need to do something that does require manually positioning her in bed, there is a button I push and it makes the bed flat and static (but still inflated) while we do what we gotta do. I can adjust the time cycle for different increments, I think it is every 4 mins, 8 mins, 15 mins, and 60 mins.
The mattress costs something like $5000 but with a Dr.'s order that includes the proper diagnosis (one of which is bedsores and I don't know if there are any other qualifying dx such as immobility) Medicare covers 80% and the supplement gets the rest. They rent it for 13 months and if we are still using it then, it becomes ours and Medicare doesn't have to pay anymore. Kind of like medical-rent-to-own.

Look into it and see if you can get one or something similar to help your situation! Especially since your dad's circulation isn't optimum, judging from what you said about the healing time of the darkened area he developed...he's going to be very susceptible to pressure ulcers and if he gets one, it will require even more diligence to heal (or improve as they say) than you might be able to muster.

I think you could talk with his Dr. and figure out how to get it Medicare approved, considering your situation. In any case, I suggest you give it a try! You can't go on indefinitely doing this as you are...and I know that from personal experience.

Good luck!
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Charliegirl, those lifter sheets are sooo practical, isn't it?! I used it all the time when mom was alive. She tends to slide down the hospital bed. So, I go to the head, put a pillow between my body and the wooden panel, lean over, grab the sheet where her shoulders are, count to 3 and pull one time. Sometimes I do it wrong it and get this severe back pain. I now have arthritis on my upper shoulders and neck due to the constant repetitive pulling/pushing strain on my body all these years...and I'm only age 47. Don't want to know what I will be suffering further down the road....I still have father who weighs much more than me....I never thought about clenching the buttocks.
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