Anyone who is bedridden for lengthy periods of time or seated in a wheelchair can start to show signs of bed sores. This is a skin condition that can be caused from prolonged pressure on the skin for such extended periods that healthy blood flow is interrupted to these areas.
You may find this problem more prevalent in seniors confined to a bed or a wheelchair for days or even weeks at a time due to medical issues and preventing bed sores is crucial in these situations. Depending on the health issue, bed sores can exacerbate the medical issue that the senior is experiencing.
If you are tasked with providing Quality In Home Senior Care to an elderly loved one who has a health matter that has put them in a bed for any extended length of time or they are living in a wheelchair, the following information can be very helpful.
Dangers of Bed Sores
There are many and they can be hazardous to any individual of any age but they can be particularly harmful to elderly adults. The obvious dangers are the typical pain and discomfort that a bed sore can provide to the sufferer. But the potential dangers got further in the form of infection if the sores are left untreated.
These infections include endocarditis, meningitis, and cellulitis and the sores can be found in those areas that have prolonged contact with a bed or a wheelchair, such as the elbows, heels, hips, and back, mainly the tailbone and the shoulder blades. There is a greater vulnerability in these locations because they have a minimum of fat or muscle.
The cause of these bed sores is a lack of blood flow to these portions of the body which means a deprivation of oxygen and the necessary nutrients that promote healthy skin. The blood flow becomes impeded when the body remains in one position with little to no movement.
Treatment and Prevention
Now that you know what can cause bed sores in seniors, it’s important to understand the best ways to prevent and treat bed sores. Prevention is paramount but in the event you are unable to keep bed sores from developing in the skin of your senior, then you will need to implement simple treatment methods that are in place for anytime the skin sustains an injury and/or an infection develops.
The best ways to prevent bed sores are as follows:
Since one of the leading causes of bed sores is prolonged pressure on delicate and fragile skin, a good way to prevent them from occurring is to reduce that pressure and lowering the risk of occurrence. This should be done every one to two hours for those individuals lying in bed and every twenty to thirty minutes for those who are seated in wheelchairs.
These movements can help to keep blood circulation normal and prevent bed sores from developing. If the senior has trouble moving under his or her own power, you may need to help them maneuver from one position to another.
Maintain Clean, Dry Skin
Another leading cause of bed sores is skin that is dirty and wet. Spending long hours lying in bed can lead the body to sweat and when the skin is left to remain sweaty and dirty, the likelihood of bed sores occurring becomes more prevalent. So keeping the skin clean and dry in those areas of the body where bed sores are more common can help to reduce the risk of development.
Seniors confined to a bed or a wheelchair are already at a reduced rate of exercise and activity but that doesn’t mean these things are completely out of the question. Even the smallest movements of the arms and legs can go a long way to reducing the risk of bed sores.
For those seniors who have lost the movement in these limbs, a caregiver can help by moving the arms or legs for them. Anything to get the blood flowing and motion into the limb from being raised and lowered in ten to fifteen second increments.
If the senior is suffering from bed sores, treatment is vital. Luckily most bed sores can be tended to in the same manner as any small open wound. But as the severity increases, so too must the treatments.
This is the main reason you must treat bed sores as quickly as possible. Treatment is dependent upon the stage of the wound and how deep it has become in the skin.
Stage one bed sores are the mildest and can be cleaned with some soap and warm water. Apply some moisture-barring lotion to keep them dry and clean. For deeper, more damaging bed sores, saline is the way to clean out the wound and cover with a clean dressing.
The worst and most advanced bed sores could become infected, in which case, antibiotics may be necessary to eliminate the infection.