Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate: Dr. Cynthia Speaks!

Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman
3 min readFeb 27, 2024

Topic: Caring for a Loved One with Contractures


Caring for a bedridden loved one with contractures at home demands a lot of patience, insight, and skill. The activities of daily living are a given, but ensuring their comfort and emotional well-being is imperative. Feeling comfortable again may never be their reality because of pain and bone deformities.

Definition of Contractures: A contracture is a permanent shortening of muscles, tendons, skin, and soft tissues. This condition causes the joints to become stiff and limits normal movement.

When someone spends their existence in bed with contractures, their body is imprisoned in ways that are painful and unnatural. Whether it’s due to a medical condition or the challenges of old age, being bedridden with contractures can lead to a range of problems like pressure sores, skin tears, and foul odor in folded joints(fingers, toes, groin areas). It’s crucial to have a plan that addresses overall well-being. Let me share nuggets that can assist in making sure your loved ones are cared for to the best of your ability.

Pressure Sores and Skin Breakdown

One of the most common issues faced by bedridden loved ones with contracture is the development of bed sores. They occur due to prolonged pressure on the skin where bones are close to the body’s surface, like heels, elbows, hips, and buttocks. Changing the positions of your loved one is vital to decrease the chances of developing bed sores. You can also use pillows to help alleviate areas where pressure is likely. You can also consult your healthcare provider to inquire about ordering specialty beds, pressure mattresses, and various pads used for the bed. Keep skin clean and dry in the contracted areas. Remember, moisture breeds bacteria.

Good Hygiene Is Paramount

Daily bed baths should be gentle using warm water. Avoid hot water. Rubbing softly and paying attention to loved ones who cannot tell you if they are in pain is necessary. Pay attention to facial expressions, like grimacing or frowning.

Encouraging Gentle Bed Exercises

Light exercising the limbs as tolerated can help with stiffness and improve circulation. It is always necessary to consult your healthcare provider to get instructions. Also, a physical therapist can help caregivers learn exercises suitable for a bedridden patient with contractures and teach the family how to move body joints properly.

As Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, being bedridden with contractures can take a toll on our elderly loved ones’ quality of life, which also includes their mental health. Your daily task is supporting your loved ones in a compassionate and caring way, ​regardless of whether they can respond to you. Be safe! Be well!

Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman is a retired registered nurse and case manager, CEO of Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate and author of From the Lens of Daughter, Nurse, and Caregiver: A Journey of Duty and Honor, and The Black Book of Important Information for Caregivers.




Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman

Dr. Hickman is the author of From the Lens of Daughter, Nurse, and Caregiver: A Journey of Duty and Honor and The Black Book of Important for Caregivers.