Impacting as many as one in every ten older adults, and even more prevalent in those who smoke, suffer from chronic conditions such as diabetes, or whose skin is much more fragile, bed sores (also called pressure sores or pressure injuries) are not merely extremely painful – they can quickly progress to infections that can spread to the bloodstream and even become life-threatening.
For individuals with limited mobility or who are bed- or wheelchair-bound, and for those who look after them, the battle against bed sores can seem endless. Resulting from too little blood flow when remaining in a single position for too much time, it is imperative for those taking care of a loved one to learn about pressure sore prevention. Try some of these suggestions to help protect your loved one’s vulnerable skin from dangerous sores:
Frequent Position Changes
- Hourly if wheelchair-bound, every couple of hours if bedbound
- Use lifting devices when possible to prevent friction during repositioning
- Use specialized cushions and pads:
- Between knees and ankles
- Under calves to guard heels
- To lie at an angle, protecting hips
- Use mild soap and warm (not hot) water and apply lotion
- For excessively moist skin, use talcum powder
- Massage areas susceptible to pressure sores to boost circulation
Healthy Nutrition and Activity Choices
- Check with your loved one’s doctor for dietary and supplement tips for optimum skin health
- Maintain good hydration
- Quit smoking
- Daily exercise (as appropriate and per doctor’s recommendations)
If, in spite of taking these preventative measures, a senior loved one develops a bed sore, it will progress through the following four stages:
- Stage 1: A blue, purple or reddish bruise-like patch from the skin can be noticed, which can be warmer as compared to surrounding skin and cause sensations of itching or burning.
- Stage 2: An open sore appears from the bruise, resembling a blister or abrasion. Discoloration and pain accompany this stage.
- Stage 3: While the sore worsens, the surrounding skin darkens and the area is deepened.
- Stage 4: During this period, damage occurs to the bone, muscle and/or joints, and osteomyelitis (a significant bone infection) or even sepsis (a life-threatening blood infection) may appear.
Make sure to contact your loved one’s doctor immediately if a bed sore is noticed. Harmony Home Health & Hospice, the Albuquerque home care services leader, can also help by performing daily inspections to spot vulnerable regions of the skin and detect the early signs and symptoms of pressure sores, as well as assist with ambulation, turning and transferring to cut back on the possibility of developing sores. Our top-rated home health care services and professional care team are just a phone call away. Contact us today at 1-877-463-3322.