11 Things to Do While You’re Bedridden

older woman in bed with a comforting hand over hers

Whether it’s a chronic illness, a spinal cord injury, or chronic pain, there are a number of reasons an older adult might be placed on bedrest. Anyone can be advised to stay on strict bed rest for different reasons. For example, during a high-risk pregnancy, many health care professionals often advise patients to remain on bed rest. While many get through it relatively easy, for the elderly, it can be difficult.

Engaging activities to occupy the day while on bed rest might be difficult for seniors to discover, but there are options. Bedrest is often prescribed with the best interest of the patient’s health in mind. However, prolonged bed rest can be frustrating for a patient already suffering from an illness. Additionally, seeing your loved one going through this difficult phase might be overwhelming.

Why Is Involvement Necessary for Bedridden Patients?

Old age can be a period in life when people are free of professional responsibilities and have more time to do things they never seemed to have time to do when they were younger. Some spend their days playing with their grandchildren, while others follow a set routine every day. When physical activity decreases due to a loved being placed in a nursing home, experiencing symptoms related to dementia, or incurring muscle weakness, it can affect a patients mental health. Life for patients on complete bed rest dependent on caregivers and family members often feel unmotivated and bored. However, involvement in activities designed for bedridden patients is necessary for good mental health.

Patients with limited mobility and on bed rest often benefit from engaging in activities they enjoy. Talking to a friend, watching television, or reading a book can be enjoyable for those stuck in bed. Failure to engage in activities might be detrimental to their health or cause their condition to worsen. Bedridden patients may feel there isn’t anything to for them to do but there are many options to choose from and it’s important to find one. If those bed-ridden don’t engage in activities to divert their mind, it can lead to physical and mental challenges like depression, anxiety, muscle deterioration, and weakness.

Here are 11 things to do while you’re bedridden.


Bedridden seniors have to limit their amount of mobility. However, it’s crucial for them to practice movement as much as they can. Bed rest for long periods of time can result in bedsores and pressure sores. Home care assistance may be needed in order to aid in the practice of safe movement exercises. These movements are essential in stopping these painful bedsores from developing. You can also search for various chair exercises a bedridden patient might be able to complete safely. Exercise will help the patient build muscle mass and enhance blood circulation in the body. As a result, it will increase their flexibility and range of motion.

There should be a caregiver present to monitor and assist if needed while the bedridden patient exercises. To prevent injury or overworking the patient, it’s important to watch them closely. Listed below are 5 types of exercises a bedridden patient can do to stop muscle deterioration.

Finger and Hand Stretches

Finger stretching and hand stretching exercises can help seniors keep the muscles in their hands from deteriorating. These exercises can also reduce the need for assistance in situations where limited mobility is problematic. Finger and hand stretching exercises will help them continue to perform basic tasks on their own. These tasks include pressing the buttons on a remote or eating a meal.

Leg Lifts

Practicing leg lifts two or three times a day can help in the prevention of pressure sores while increasing blood flow. Elderly patients bedridden for a short period of time may find it easier to begin walking again (without trembling) if they practice leg daily lifts.

Arm Lifts

The bedridden patient can perform arm lifts either alone or with the help of a caregiver; however, it depends on their medical condition to determine how much assistance they require. Arm lifts are great exercises that aid in building muscle mass. This is important because it helps patients continue to be able to hold or move objects.

Ankle Flexes

Ankle flexes and pushes are great exercises to increase range of motion in the legs of seniors who are on bed rest. This exercise also improves blood circulation in the feet and is also crucial for bedridden seniors with diabetes. These exercises are difficult to perform alone especially for a person with limited mobility; therefore, additional support from a caregiver may be needed.

curly haired caucasian woman stretching in bed

Keep up with Hygiene

Good hygiene is important for the overall health of a bedbound person. Maintaining good hygiene can be hard for patients to achieve if they are bedridden. If this is the case, they will require a home care assistance to give them a sponge bath or bed bath.

This also varies according to the patient’s health condition. One day they may be able to bathe, brush their hair, and dress; while other days, their symptoms might be severe and cause immobility. Maintaining good hygiene will encourage the patients healing process, while also boosting their confidence and motivation.

Engage in Creativity

It’s true that when a person is sick, they can feel very little motivation to engage in anything. However, it’s important to distract your mind to feel better. Trying out a creative activity or a new hobby can both improve the mental and physical state of someone on bed rest. It will lead to mental and physical stimulation, and the activity would keep them engaged and busy for a fair amount of time. There are various options to explore when seeking possible activities. Some include cross-stitch, knitting, model building, painting, drawing, or learning something new. For instance, learning to play a musical instrument or attempting to understand new languages can be interesting and fun ways to spend time while on bed rest.

Read a Book

Reading may be the easiest activity to do while bedridden. For some, reading in bed is a relaxing and pleasant experience; therefore, it may bring a sense of normality to those bed ridden patients. There are many options when it comes to reading material. Whether you like to read newspapers, books, or magazines, there are a lot of choices available. With the help of eBooks, there is nearly unlimited access to any genre you wish to explore. Bedridden patients won’t even have to ask for a book or magazine due to the abundance of reading materials available on the internet. A smart device is all you need to access the world of digital reading materials.

If reading is something that your loved one doesn’t enjoy, an audiobook may be the perfect choice. Reading or listening to an audiobook will likely take their mind off their current situation, enhance sleep, and provide an opportunity to learn new things. Some are interested in the news and what’s going on in the world, so listening to live streams and news channels might appeal to them.

a woman reading in bed with a cup of tea

Brain Stimulating Activities

Another way to engage an elderly person on bed rest is by engaging them in activities like putting puzzles together and playing games. It’s a great way to stimulate their mind and pass the time. Card-games, Monopoly, and Scrabble are some examples of games that your loved one might enjoy. It’s a good activity to socialize and connect with family and also creates a pleasant diversion. There are various board games available online as well.

Your loved one will likely appreciate you taking the time from your hectic schedule and spending it with your bedridden family member. Board games are good if bedridden patients want to spend some quality time with their children and grandchildren. If they wish to spend time alone, crossword puzzles and word searches are great mind stimulating activities.

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Watch Shows and Movies

Lying down on the bed for a long period of time might not be an ideal situation for anyone. However, it’s a good setting for watching movies and shows. Older adults may like to watch reruns of their favorite shows or check out a new series. A movie marathon is also something bedridden patients may enjoy. Hollywood and independent film makers are constantly creating movies so there is something for everyone. They can even invite other family members to join them at this movie marathon. Elderly patients could introduce their all-time favorite movies to younger family members, and maybe they younger crowd will like them, even if they are somewhat out of fashion. Watching their favorite movies and shows can be a great distraction and fun too.

Video Call Friends and Family

It’s not necessary for your bedridden family member to live nearby to see them anymore. Technology has made it possible to see who you are talking to in real time through video calling. A home care assistant can always help set up these interactive calls, and the patients will enjoy them immensely. Bedridden patients can now easily stay in touch with family and loved ones with the help of modern technology.

old man and young man waving and smiling into a cell phone

Finding Pleasures in Little Things and Activities

Bed rest for a prolonged period can be a difficult situation for anyone. In such a phase, it is important to find pleasure in little activities and things that brighten your day. For example, if your family member who is on bed rest loves scented candles, you can gift them some. The fragrance of their favorite candle can soothe their mind and lift their mood. Elderly patients on bed rest may also enjoy receiving a manicure or ordering food from their favorite restaurant. Finding pleasure in the little things can often improve their mood, increase motivation, and prevent boredom.

Another great way to pass the time while also improving blood flow and circulation is gained by getting a hand and foot massage. These can be done in their own space easily and be a relaxing experience. Taking time to enjoy the little things rather than focusing on being confined to a bed can be great for the overall health of bedridden patients.

Socialize with the People Who Visit

Some people love to talk and engage with people. However, with limited mobility, visiting and interacting with people might be a difficult thing. However, this is not always the case. If your bedridden family member has visitors coming over, it’s a good chance to interact and engage with them. Humans are naturally social creatures, and spending quality time with friends and family is beneficial for the elderly on bed rest.

Take some time to pay regular visits to a family member who is on bed rest. If they don’t live nearby, try and arrange video calls to find out how they’re doing. You can also check with community organizations to learn if they have volunteer programs that make house calls or check in with nursing home patients. If the bedridden patient has grandchildren, they would love the opportunity to spend time with them.

girls and grandmother hugging in bed on a sunny morning

Video Games

Fans of video games may enjoy the nostalgia of remembering the fun they had while playing their favorite video games. While some bedridden patients may not be able to physically move the controller to play the games, others may find playing video games to be a great way to pass the time. Playing video games can be both fun and improve hand-eye coordination.

Writing Poetry or Letters

Writing is great to relieve stress and get things off your mind that may be bothering you. It’s a creative and mentally stimulating activity that will help enhance memory and will keep the person in bed rest busy. If this idea appeals to them, and they add it to their routine, it will help them stay active mentally. Engagement and activity level is crucial for overall happiness and health. A caregiver can help them write letters to friends and family if mobility is limited and ensure the intended receives it. As a member of the family, you can also encourage children and grandchildren to write letters to the elderly.

Ask Questions, Share Memories

Another good idea is to call them frequently and ask them about their favorite recipes. This will help them activate their memory and will also improve the way their memory recall functions. They can also engage in sharing their favorite memories with a family member, talking about old times, and remembering fond memories. This can often lift their mood and make them feel better. They can also ask a family member to cook their favorite meal using their own recipe.

mature woman sitting in bed thinking about what to write in her notebook

Health Risks of Seniors on Bed Rest

There are many challenges that may arise for seniors who are on bed rest due to disability, sickness, or age. The burden of these challenges is not only faced by the person on bed rest but also by the caregiver. Some of the common health risks include:

Pressure Sores

Pressure sores are an unfortunate complication that may develop for a person on bed rest for a long period of time. Patients that develop bedsores may have to deal with immense pain, depression, discomfort, and deteriorating quality of life. The good news is, they are preventable.

Deformity of Joints and Muscles

Some may think that resting in bed may be good for the body. However, it is not something your body is designed for. Deformity of joints and muscles due to stiffness is a serious concern, and it’s common with people on complete bed rest. This may lead to limited mobility and pain. Some deformities that are common include foot drops and wrist drops, both of these can be prevented through exercise.


A patient on bed rest for a long period of time can easily become depressed. It is crucial to set a routine that enhances their comfort and distracts them from the pain of the illness.

Senior Asian couple siting on the bed and looking at computer laptop

Final Thoughts

It’s quite easy to lose interest in life when you’re bedridden, especially if it’s for a long period of time. These individuals can be on bed rest for various reasons. It can be due to a chronic illness, mild dementia, or any other health condition. Many elderly people can feel unmotivated and depressed when going through such a phase. They get tired of lying down and often miss the social connection with others. Additionally, many patients who are generally largely independent may find it hard to accept requiring someone’s assistance to do everyday tasks. One of the best gifts you can give your family member who is on bed rest is your time, and for patients in a nursing home, you can visit them frequently to help them feel better.

There are many ways that family members and caregivers can help their bedridden loved ones pass the time and lift their mood. It is important to help them understand that their life isn’t over and with time and healing this part of their life where they are bedridden will become a distant memory. The above-mentioned activities can help the bedridden patient feel engaged and happy about their life.

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