Bed sores, also known as pressure sores, affect upwards of one out of every ten older adults, and are even more prevailing in those who smoke, are living with a chronic illness like diabetes, or who have thin or fragile skin. Bed sores are not merely extremely painful – they can easily progress to infections that can become life-threatening.
Pressure sores are a result of a reduction in blood flow when remaining in one place for a lengthy period of time. For people with decreased mobility or who are confined to a bed or wheelchair, the battle against bed sores can feel endless. Still, it is critical for those caring for a senior loved one to learn about bed sore prevention.
So how can you avoid bed sores in seniors? These guidelines can help protect your loved one’s sensitive skin from painful and dangerous sores:
Change Positions Often
- Help the person change position every couple of hours if confined to a bed, or hourly if confined to a wheelchair.
- Use lifting devices to prevent friction while repositioning.
Utilize Supportive Devices
- Place specialized cushions and pads:
- Beneath calves to protect heels
- In between ankles and knees
- To lie at an angle, to protect the hips
Practice Skin Care
- Wash the skin with a mild soap and warm water, and apply lotion.
- If the skin is too moist, apply talcum powder.
- Massage areas vulnerable to pressure sores to boost circulation.
Help With a Healthy Diet and Staying Active
- Consult with the senior’s physician for dietary and supplement tips for improved skin health.
- Encourage the person to quit smoking.
- Improve hydration.
- Implement exercises each day per doctor’s guidelines.
If your loved one develops a pressure sore despite taking the proper preventative measures, it may progress through these four stages:
- Stage 1: A bruise-like patch can form on the skin which may be warmer in comparison with surrounding skin. The area might burn or itch.
- Stage 2: An open sore appears from the bruise. This may look like an abrasion or blister and be painful and discolored.
- Stage 3: As the sore gets worse, the surrounding skin becomes darker and the area is deepened.
- Stage 4: During this stage, damage occurs to the bone, muscle, and/or joints, and a bone infection called osteomyelitis or even sepsis (a life-threatening infection of the blood) could occur.
Call the senior’s health care provider immediately if a bed sore appears. One of our caregivers in Bismarck, Mandan, or Fargo can also help by performing daily skin inspections to help detect vulnerable regions of the skin and the early signs and symptoms of pressure sores.
Our caregivers can also help with walking, position changes, and transferring to decrease the risk of developing pressure sores. Our professional home care services and care team are just a phone call away. Reach out to Dakota Home Care today at (877) 691-0015.