by Linda J. Austin


My uniform was wilting in the humidity at 7 A.M. as I drove the back roads (winding in and out of Maine and New Hampshire) to Mary's house. I wondered what new experience awaited. Yesterday with the heat turned up to eighty and lying under three quilts Mary was cold - not goosebump cold, she was ice water cold. I thought of climbing into bed with her to give her my body heat -- that would mean undressing. This wasn't covered in nursing assistant training. A warm bath was out of the question - she could no longer walk. I took a deep breath to calm myself. As I massaged Mary's hands my father's words echoed, "Linda you can do anything you think you can. Only you can defeat you."


Should you find yourself in the same position - here's my solution:


3-4 bath towels

flannel sheet or lightweight blanket

  • Put the towels in the dryer on high for about 5 minutes - turn the timer dial up higher because some dryers automatically cool down during the last 5 minutes
  • Untuck the covers at the bottom of the bed
  • Remove the towels one at a time - keep them balled up (to hold the heat)
  • Put the first warm towel under the patient's head & wrap like a winter scarf - be careful of the canula
  • Second warm towel - reach under the covers from the bottom of the bed & wrap the patient's feet loosely - do not bind
  • Third warm towel - reach under the covers & wrap the patient's hands - be careful of IVs - you may need 2 towels
  • When you remove the last towel from the dryer, toss the blanket into the dryer
  • Take the warm blanket & working under the covers, spread the blanket over the patient

Note -

Putting socks on cold feet just holds in the cold - warm the feet first

If you don't have a dryer, towels can be warmed with an electric hairdryer

If you don't have any extra blankets - towels or a sheet can be used

Linda J. Austin writes from experience as a nursing assistance and a family caregiver. "When I was assigned my first hospice case, I found my place in life." Retired from several careers, Linda is studying creative art therapy.


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