HOMECARE OF THE ELDERLY: PREVENTION OF BEDSORES
Some of us are so fortunate to have elderly members in our family. However, with a busy schedule in this competitive world, we might not get enough time to spend with them, but, their health becomes a matter of concern. With increasing age, they would need a specialized approach to home care to keep them healthy. Unfortunately, with growing age and weakness a few might experience depression or worse bedsores (also known as pressure sores or pressure ulcers). It requires absolute attention and care so our loved ones don’t suffer silently. There are various reasons why someone is affected by bedsores. Fortunately, now we can also prevent bedsores before they occur.
Out of many, one major cause of concern is - how do we prevent the development of bedsores or pressure ulcers?
Bedsores or pressure ulcers
People who are bedridden or spend significant time in a bed or a wheelchair and cannot shift positions on their own are at risk of developing bedsores.
Why do the elderly get bed sores?
Bedsore occurs at areas where the skin and/or underlying tissues get damaged, often leading to an irritated, open wound. This happens when tissue is compressed between two relatively hard surfaces, such as a bed or a wheelchair. The blood supply is cut off to that area and the deprived tissue becomes injured and dies.
The skin of older adults offers much less protection from injury than younger skin. People who are paralyzed or have severe mobility issues may not be able to move, sometimes not even a bit to allow increased blood flow to the compressed areas. The older the age, the higher is the risk as the skin thins down, loses its elasticity, and becomes more fragile. Caregivers of families caring for the elderly who are bedridden or wheelchair-bound must be particularly careful to prevent bedsores from forming.
Perspiration from a fever or moisture from urine or stool incontinence can also make the skin of the elderly weaker and more prone to irritation. Certain lifestyle factors and chronic health conditions affect circulation, mobility, and sensory perception and can increase this risk as well. Common risk factors include cancer, stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, malnutrition, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), peripheral artery disease (PAD), heart failure, and hip fractures.
Look Out for Early Signs of Bedsores in the Elderly
● Changes in Skin Colour
Keep an eye out for signs of skin irritation. These marks may be blue or purple in individuals with darker skin and pink or red in those with lighter skin.
● Unusual Fluctuations in Skin Temperature
Excess warmth indicates inflammation, while coolness indicates little or no blood flow to the area.
● Changes in Tissue Consistency
Affected areas may feel exceptionally soft or boggy and different from healthy surrounding tissue.
● Unusual Sensations
Numbness, burning, itching, pain, or tingling often occurs in at-risk areas when a wound is developing.
● Blisters or Abrasions
These minor wounds often signify an existing superficial injury that can easily worsen.
Deep bruises over at-risk areas are more serious and often indicate significant damage below the skin. This is common after a frail elderly has had a fall. It may look like a simple, nasty bruise, but it should be carefully monitored so that it doesn’t turn into a sore.
7 Steps of Home Care to Prevent Bedsores
1. Get the elderly moving. If they can’t. You do.
2. Check the skin for signs of developing Bed Sores often.
3. Use specialty bedding or materials to reduce pressure.
4. Keep the skin dry, clean, and moisturized.
5. Ensure the elderly seniors maintain a healthy diet.
6. Manage chronic health conditions effectively.
7. Apply a barrier gel-cream such as Soreze to protect the skin from friction, moisture, and irritation.
Effective and regular monitoring is the key to preventing bedsores of the elderly while being cared for at home.