In nursing homes, between 8% to 28% of elderly individuals experience bed sores. This is a major concern for elderly care since bed sores can become dangerous and even life-threatening if not properly treated. Bed sores are extremely painful and uncomfortable, and elderly individuals may find it difficult to move or communicate their discomfort. This makes prevention all the more essential.
In this article, learn about elderly bed sores, how they occur, and steps for preventing them to keep your loved one safe.
What Causes Bed Sores?
Bed sores, also known as pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers, are a common problem for elderly individuals. They typically develop in areas of the body where there is prolonged contact with a hard surface such as bedding or seating and can be very painful. More specifically, areas of skin become trapped, compressed, and deprived of oxygen which creates an environment that is prone to pressure sores.
The elderly are particularly vulnerable to developing bed sores because their skin is more fragile and prone to breakdown. As a note, bed sores on the elderly are a sign of neglect. It’s important that elderly individuals receive regular care in order to prevent the development of bed sores.
The Stages of Bed Sores
Bed sores can progress through four stages of severity. The earlier bed sores are identified and treated, the better the outcome will be.
Stage 1: Red Patches
Bed sores at this stage appear as red patches on the skin that do not blanch (turn white) when pressure is applied. These areas may itch, feel tender or warm to the touch, and be accompanied by mild discomfort.
Stage 2: Open Wounds
The elderly individual may develop an open wound that is shallow and covered with a thin layer of tissue.
Stage 3: Deep Ulcers
The elderly individual may have a deep ulcer with damage that extends into the fat layers under the skin.
Stage 4: Severe Damage to the Body
Bed sores in this stage are very severe, causing extensive damage to the muscles, tendons, and bone. This stage leads to serious infections and can even be fatal.
The Common Causes of Elderly Bed Sores
A number of factors can increase an elderly person’s risk for developing bed sores. These include:
- Poor hygiene
- Lack of mobility
- Pressure from tight clothing or bedding
Additionally, elderly individuals who are confined to a wheelchair or bed for long periods of time are at an increased risk for developing these sores.
Preventing Elderly Bed Sores
Elderly bed sores can be prevented by taking a few simple steps such as:
- Good Hygiene: Making sure elderly individuals receive regular baths, use a moisturizing lotion, and their bedding is kept clean can help reduce the development of bed sores.
- Regular Positioning: To prevent bedsores from developing, elderly individuals should be repositioned regularly if they are confined to a bed or wheelchair.
- Nutrition & Hydration: Ensuring elderly individuals receive adequate nutrition and hydration can help reduce the risk of bed sores.
- Good Support Surfaces: Using good quality mattresses and cushions that are designed to reduce pressure on elderly individuals’ skin can also help prevent bedsores.
- Regular Exercise: Encouraging elderly individuals to stay active can help improve circulation and reduce the risk of bed sores.
- Skin Checks: Conducting regular skin checks to spot any potential problem areas before they become serious.
Has Your Loved One Undergone Neglect at the Nursing Home? We Can Help
If your elderly loved one has developed bed sores due to negligence or abuse in a nursing home setting, you may be able to take legal action.
At PMHP, we have experienced lawyers who can help guide you through the process and fight for the justice your elderly loved one deserves. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help.