Pressure sores, also known as bed sores, affect upwards of one in every ten seniors and are even more prevalent in those who smoke, are living with a chronic disease such as diabetes, or who have fragile or thin skin. Bed sores are not merely extremely painful – they can easily progress to infections that can become life-threatening.
Bed sores are a result of reduced blood flow when remaining in one place for an expanded period of time. For those with decreased mobility or who are bed- or wheelchair-bound, the struggle against bed sores can feel endless. Still, it is vital for those providing care for an elderly loved one to learn as much as possible about pressure sore prevention. So how can you prevent pressure sores in older adults? These tips can help protect your loved one’s vulnerable skin from dangerous and painful sores:
Change Positions Frequently
- Help the senior change position every couple of hours if confined to a bed or every hour if confined to a wheelchair.
- Utilize lifting devices to protect against friction while repositioning.
Utilize Supportive Devices
- Put specialized cushions and pads:
- Under calves to guard heels.
- 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 enhance circulation.
Encourage Healthy Eating and an Active Lifestyle
- Talk to the senior’s doctor for dietary and supplement tips for optimum skin health.
- Encourage the senior to quit smoking.
- Ensure good hydration.
- Implement daily exercises per doctor’s guidelines.
If a senior loved one develops a pressure sore despite taking the proper precautions, it may advance through the following four stages:
- Stage 1: A bruise-like patch can develop on the skin which might be warmer compared to surrounding skin. This area might itch or burn.
- Stage 2: An open sore develops from the bruise. This might 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: In this stage, damage occurs to the muscle, bone, and/or joints, and a bone infection called osteomyelitis or even sepsis (a life-threatening infection of the blood) can occur.
Contact your loved one’s doctor immediately if a bed sore appears. As one of the leading home care providers of Texas, in Austin and the surrounding areas, CareFor can also help by performing daily skin inspections to help spot vulnerable parts of the skin and the early signs and symptoms of bed sores. Our caregivers can also help with position changes, walking, and transferring to reduce the risk of developing bed sores. Our professional home care services and care team are just a phone call away. Contact us today online or call (512) 338-4533.