Preventing Pressure SoresElder health care vigilance from family members is the best way to prevent pressure sores. Recently, two older friends of mine had aortic valve replacements. Mary just started her fourth week in a nursing home. Lynn was home two weeks after her surgery. What is the difference between these two women? Mary developed a pressure sore or bed sore in the hospital and must stay in a nursing home until it heals. Lynn did not.When faced with an elder health care crisis, it’s easy to forget about the perils of bed sores. It certainly wasn’t at the top of Mary’s concerns when she checked into the hospital for her surgery.
I associate pressure sores with nursing home patients and possible neglect. When I researched the subject, I found it takes a surprisingly short time for a pressure sore to develop.
Pressure sores can develop anytime a person cannot change positions regularly by herself. It can happen anywhere, at home, in a senior care community or the hospital. When blood flow is reduced to an area, the tissue begins to die and the sore is formed.
Elder health care risk factors that increase the chance that your family member may develop a pressure sore:
- Fragile skin
- Advanced age
- Diabetes or vascular disease that prevents adequate blood flow to all parts of the body.
- A condition that inhibits or prevents voluntary movement like multiple sclerosis,Parkinson’s disease or brain/spinal cord injuries.
Elder health care steps to prevent pressure sores
- Protect bony areas of the body (heels, elbows and the tail bone) with special padding. When your family member is lying on her side make sure she is not lying directly on her hip bone and that a pillow is placed between her knees.
- Make sure that your family member is regularly turned or repositioned at least every two hours, twenty-four hours a day.
- Request special mattresses that help prevent pressure soars from developing if your family member is bedridden.
- If your family member is incontinent, her skin should be kept clean and dry.
- Check your family member’s skin daily to make sure that no pressure sores are developing. Look for red spots that don’t turn white when you press on the skin, large blisters or any skin breaks.
If your family member appears to be developing a pressure sore, contact her doctor immediately for advice.
What are your tips for helping elders avoid skin issues like pressure sores?
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