Beware of the Bedsore

One of the most common chronic problems for the elderly in assisted living centers is pressure sores, also known as bedsores.  While it is not as common for seniors living at home because they are more active you should still pay careful attention to any pressure marks.

Pressure sores are often referred to as bedsores because they are most often noticed in people who are bedridden.  However, this can give a false conclusion since they can also develop when people sit for too long or prop their feet up on a surface.

What Are Pressure Sores?

Bed sores are actually a tissue injury in areas where the soft tissue received constant or prolonged pressure between a hard surface such as a bed and a bony area on the body.  The pressure causes a disruption or limitation of blood flow that carries the nutrients the tissues need.  This results in a breakdown of tissue and a pressure sore.

Certain areas of the body are more prone to getting pressure sores because of the constant pressure on the bones located around these areas.  The areas to pay close attention to include the following:

  • Hips
  • Heels
  • Low back or tailbone
  • Ankles
  • Knees
  • Shoulders
  • Spine
  • Head

Risk Factors

Certain factors increase the risk of getting pressure sores and should be watched closely.  This includes confinement to one location for more than an hour at a time.  This can mean a bed, wheelchair, or other chair.

Another risk factor is inability to change positions without assistance.  For instance, this can include someone who is paralyzed or in a weakened condition or recovering from an injury or illness.

Moisture from feces or urine can speed up the breakdown of tissue and irritate the surrounding skin.  People with limited mental alertness may not realize they are wet or in pain and need to switch positions.

How to Prevent Pressure Sores

Pressure sores can be prevented with good monitoring.  Be aware of what causes them and the risk factors and constantly monitor for any signs.  Other ways you or a homecare services caregiver can prevent these sores include:

  • Regular bathing
  • Provide water for hydration
  • Provide nutrition to help the body heal
  • Reposition the senior to keep them from laying on one area for too long
  • Use of additional devices to take some of the weight off of an area – this can mean an air pillow to keep the body part off the hard surface

Treating Pressure Sores

Once the skin has broken on a sore, it can become irritated and get worse.  Proper care is needed for this area to heal.  The person will need to spend most of their time in a position that allows that area to get air and to be protected from any hard surfaces.  Medication may be used and dressing applied to allow the sore to heal.

For people with certain diseases like diabetes, it can take longer for the area to heal, and it may often spread and get worse.  Serious bedsores can result in a loss of muscle or bone near the area.

Pressure sores are divided into four stages based on their severity.  Stage four is the most severe and can be difficult to treat.  It often requires the need for surgery and causes extensive damage.

If you have a senior family member who cannot get up on their own, you need to have someone with them most of the time.  This allows them to get the care and be repositioned as needed to prevent bedsores.  Carefect Homecare services caregivers can provide care from just a few hours to around the clock.  Our caregivers can help turn the patient and monitor for any signs of tissue breakdown.

If you see signs of swollen or dark red skin, you should have it looked at by a medical professional right away.  It only takes a few days for that discoloration to develop into something more serious.  Do not think that your family member cannot get sores if they get up and around.  If they spend a great deal of time in one position, there is the possibility that pressure sores can develop.

We at Carefect Homecare services train our caregivers to recognize and prevent pressure sores in our senior clients.  We provide bathing assistance to keep their skin clean.  Our caregivers also know to move patients from one position to another on a regular basis to prevent these problems.  If skin irritation is noted, they respond quickly by alerting you so that you can get medical attention before it gets severe.