Caring for seniors is a tough job, especially if they’re immobile. Not only do you need to ensure that their basic needs are met, you also must guard against the health risks that come as a result of immobility. One of the most serious of these risks is bedsores, because once they develop, they’re difficult to treat and can lead to other, more serious conditions. With that in mind, here are five things every caregiver should know about bedsores.
1. Seniors Are at High Risk for Bedsores
While anyone can develop a bedsore, there are a number of reasons why seniors are especially vulnerable. For starters, seniors are more likely to be bed-bound or confined to a wheelchair. In these situations, seniors aren’t able to regularly shift their position in the bed or the chair. As a result, the constant pressure and friction on certain areas of the body begins to cause skin damage that can ultimately lead to a sore. In addition, chronic conditions like diabetes and vascular disease can limit blood flow, which increases the risk of tissue damage.
Seniors are also more likely to suffer from neurological disorders and other conditions that result in a loss of sensation. As a result, if seniors are less likely to feel pain, they may not be aware they’re developing a sore. To make matters worse, seniors tend to have much thinner skin, which makes it less resilient under pressure. Combine these factors together, and you begin to see why seniors’ skin health must be monitored very closely.
2. Bedsores Often Affect Bony Areas of the Body
Bedsores develop when blood stops flowing to an area of skin for 2-3 hours. This happens most often if someone has been sitting or laying down in the same position for an extended period of time. Bedsores are most common in bony areas of the body where there’s little extra fat to protect the skin from friction between bone and their resting surface. For people using a wheelchair, the most common location on the body for bedsores are the tailbone or buttocks, shoulder blade and spine, or the back of the arms and legs. For bed-bound patients, sores tend to form on the back or sides of the head, shoulder blades, hip, lower back or tailbone, and the heels and ankles.
3. Bedsores Have Four Different Stages
Bedsores are divided into four different stages based on their severity:
- Stage 1: The affected area looks red and feels warm to the touch. The patient may also complain that the skin burns, hurts, or itches.
- Stage 2: The area appears more damaged and may have an open sore or blister. The patient complains about significant pain.
- Stage 3: The sore looks like a crater due to damage beneath the skin.
- Stage 4: The area is now a serious wound, which may involve muscle and bone. Infection is now a real risk.
Once a bedsore begins to develop, you should immediately reposition the patient. If the area doesn’t approve with a day or two, contact a doctor.
4. Bedsores are Difficult to Treat
The same factors that make seniors more vulnerable to developing bedsores also make bedsores very difficult to treat. Once a sore develops, it can take weeks or even months to heal. Common treatments include removing dead tissue, dressing the wound with medicated gauze, negative pressure wound therapy — which involved using a vacuum dressing to stimulate healing — and even skin grafts. If left untreated, bedsores can easily become infected which may lead to fever, confusion, and in the worst cases, sepsis.
5. Bedsores Can Be Prevented
Caregivers can prevent bedsores by examining the senior’s body every day for signs of redness and by keeping the skin clean and dry. Then, make sure to reposition them at least every two hours. Other tactics can also help, like adding soft padding to the bed or chair or regularly changing bedding.
Constant Attention is Required
Bedsores can develop quickly, which is just one reason why caregivers must pay close attention to the health and wellbeing of their charge. Of course, this isn’t always an easy task, especially when family caregivers are juggling the other priorities in their busy lives. In these situations, professional caregivers can provide the added support family caregivers need to ensure their older loved ones are cared for properly. If you live in Arizona and would like to learn more about how professional caregivers can help you or another family member live more independently, contact Generations Home Care today.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier and independent life.
We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasize a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.