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Home > Living Well > Health Library > Caregiving: How to Turn Someone in Bed
People sometimes have to stay in bed for long periods of time. They may be very sick, in pain, or very weak and not be able to move themselves into different positions. It's very important that your loved one changes positions. Lying in one position for a long time can cause pressure injuries (also called pressure sores).
Pressure injuries are damage to the skin. They can range from red areas on the surface of the skin to severe tissue damage that goes deep into muscle and bone. These problems are hard to treat and slow to heal. When pressure injuries don't heal well, they can cause problems such as bone, blood, and skin infections.
Pressure injuries usually occur over bony areas, such as the hips, lower back, elbows, heels, and shoulders. They can also occur in places where the skin folds over on itself.
You can help your loved one avoid pressure injuries by helping them turn and change position in bed. A drawsheet can help.
Before getting started, tell your loved one that you want them to roll into another position. If your loved one has any drains, tubes, or other medical equipment, adjust these so they don't get in the way.
It is best to turn your loved one every 2 hours. If your loved one cannot move or finds it very hard, you can use a drawsheet.
Have a family member or friend help you. It is easier for two people to turn someone, and it can be dangerous for one person to do it.
When you and your assistant are ready:
Moving someone in bed is best as a two-person job. If your loved one can help, even a little, you may be able to do it yourself. But do all you can to find someone to help you.
You can use pillows to help your loved one get comfortable and avoid pressure injuries.
If your loved one is on his or her side:
If your loved one is on his or her back:
When you are finished, smooth out the drawsheet in its original position and tuck it in.
Current as of:
October 18, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Kathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineGayle E. Stauffer, RN - Registered Nurse
Current as of: October 18, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Gayle E. Stauffer, RN - Registered Nurse
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