It’s been close to a decade since my father passed away. Initially suffering from Cervical Spondylitis, he later slipped and fell down in his room and his body was paralysed thereafter. However, he could talk and use to have a pretty decent rapport with visitors in hospital and at home until couple of months.
Anyway, the fact that he was bedridden attracted a lot of other sicknesses and the emotional trauma started creeping into the lives of each of my family members including my father. He lay bedridden with countless sicknesses for 6 complete years.
Now looking back into those excruciating years, it makes me realize quite a lot of things. Things like, what long term sickness can do to your family, why sick people gets angry faster than the speed of light and what mistakes you can possibly make in case of emergencies like when your sick family member gets into a seizure or collapses.
You may know few things like, how bed sore occurs; catheter-related UTI etc. but there are several other possible sicknesses that can beat you down to your knees.
Thus, I thought about sharing few instances that my family went through hoping that it might help you as well.
Long Term Sicknesses Invite Depression
Most of the families with a bedridden patient or with chronic long term sickness may not realize how the patient’s psychological health deteriorates due to the sickness and other factors, which usually leads to depression. There are several things that contribute to the depressed condition, according to what I have witnessed in my past.
These contributing factors are: the way the patient conceives the sickness, the thought of the detrimental consequences (which are most of the times a probability rather than certainty) of the sickness, guilty about negatively influencing the demeanour of family members, worries relating to finance, and the most harmful of all, being dependent.
If the patient is bedridden and doesn’t get to see a lot of things that he normally would like to see leads to loneliness within. When the mind identifies this loneliness, intrapersonal thoughts start springing up, which soon or later paves way for worries, which is a base of depression.
What Can Be Done About It?
First of all, try not to prevail over the patient’s decision, no matter how small the issue is. Secondly, it’s hard, not to make him/her realize that he/she is sick, but try to act normal and avoid changing your attitude towards him/her. Never talk about the expense incurred on the medication.
They say “hope dies last at war” and trust me, if the hope dies, death is eminent. Thus, always try to increase the hope of the patient. Explain him/her about the sickness and its possible cures, which will give hope to the patient. In your part, you should have a strong faith and belief in every medication or therapy or surgery he/she undergoes. You should be a physical form of hope for the patient.
Loneliness is itself painful to handle sometimes, imagine handling it with a scorching pain in your body and mental stress. Thus, never leave a bedridden patient alone in a room. Make sure he/she always has someone around. One of the most crucial things to remember is that if you or someone is staying with the patient; make sure that even if you are doing it reluctantly, it shouldn’t be noticed by the patient. That emotionally challenges the patient.
Imagine, you are stuck in a room for a week, how would you feel? Definitely, you will be aggressive and your want to come out of the room will be so intense, your entire focus will be resting on it and nothing else. Now imagine a sick person in a same situation. Obviously, he will experience the aggressiveness, anger and rage twice as much as you would. This is why bedridden patients are constantly shouting and are very angry at small things. Thus, if you have other rooms at home, shifting him/her from one room to the other, time to time is worthwhile.
Try keeping his/her mind engaged in something, but not always, which will be irritating. In my case, I use to ask a lot of questions to him about music, books, and his past. One of things that use to fascinate me then was how kids use to soothe my father. Thus, kids are very helpful when it comes to keeping a sick person occupied.
Most of the times, when people are sick for long time, they tend to despise god and religion. Prayer is something that adds to the hope and keeping hope safe for the patient is very important. Thus, no matter what, never involve god, or more precisely the word god and religion in the matters related to sickness. Never blame god or religion ever in front of him/her. Don’t give him/her the idea that even god is to be blamed.
There could be plethora of other ways to keep the mental health of the long term bedridden patient at good stance, but according to me these are the most important ones.
On your part as the person who is taking care of the patient, you should not change your attitude towards him/her or take advantage of his/her immobility, sickness and weakness. That can be the worst thing that can possibly happen to the patient, emotionally.
In this episode of my experience, I have just spoken about keeping the bedridden patient’s mental, emotional and psychological health at ease and away from depression. I will shortly come up with the next part of the experience soon and help you as much as I can by sharing it.