Bedsores, also called pressure injuries, pressure sores, pressure ulcers, or decubitus ulcers are a serious problem among senior citizens. These sores are a result of prolonged pressure on the skin that causes injuries to the skin and underlying tissues. They often occur in areas where the bones are close to the skin like the hips, heels, and tailbone.
Bed sores can be identified by redness, discolored patches of skin, swelling, pain or tenderness in the area, and changes in skin texture. As the bedsore progresses, it may evolve into an open sore or ulcer, where the skin barrier breaks down causing peeling or blistering. There might be an unpleasant odor associated with the wound as well.
According to research, experts estimate that about 80% of those living in nursing homes and acute care hospitals develop at least one pressure ulcer during their lifetime. A more recent study estimated that between 24% to 71% of elderly home residents develop pressure ulcers annually, and more than 15% of patients over the age of 50 will develop an unstageable pressure ulcer at some point in their life.
How do bed sores develop in seniors?
The development of bedsores in senior citizens is associated with a combination of factors. Aging and health conditions result in reduced mobility and prolonged pressure on certain parts of the body causing bed sores to develop over a period of time.
Seniors who are bedridden or have mobility constraints are at a higher risk of developing bed sores because of pressure on specific areas of the body for extended periods of time. Some may experience a decrease in sensation making it difficult for them to feel discomfort or pain leading to the development of bedsores. Other factors include poor circulation, natural thinning of skin, nutritional deficiencies, and prolonged exposure to moisture due to urinary incontinence.
The stages of bedsores range from mild to severe and are categorized into 4 stages. Initially, the skin is intact, but there may be redness. As the stages progress, first, the outer layer of the skin gets damaged. Then the ulcer deepens and finally, the damage reaches the muscle or bone.
Effectively managing bed sores in the elderly
To prevent bedsores, individuals or their caregivers must regularly change positions, use special mattresses, and maintain good skin care and hygiene. People who are bedridden or have limited mobility are particularly at risk so caregivers should be aware of preventive measures. Effectively managing bedsores involves a combination of preventive measures and appropriate treatment strategies.
Treatment often includes relieving pressure, keeping the wound clean, and providing proper nutrition for healing. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary.
Changing the person's position every 1-2 hours helps relieve pressure on vulnerable areas. In case a sore has developed, it is important to ensure the affected area is not under continuous pressure. Cushions, pillows, special mattresses, or foam padding can be used to prevent sores or protect and support an affected area.
Regular skin inspections
Regular skin inspections are necessary, and the skin must be kept clean and dry. Mild soaps and moisturizers can be used to prevent dryness or cracking. Proper hydration and a well-balanced diet with necessary protein and vitamins will help support and promote overall skin health.
While treating wounds, the caregiver must ensure that the affected area is not under continuous pressure. Using a mild saline solution or prescribed cleanser, the wounds should be kept clean, and wound dressings should be applied to prevent infection and promote healing.
Other medical interventions
In case of deeper wounds, dead or damaged tissue might have to be removed to promote healing. Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT) might be prescribed in some cases for better healing.
Early intervention is key to prevent complications and promote healing. Regular inspection of susceptible areas is recommended, especially for individuals with limited mobility. Antara Care at Home services brings personalized nursing care to your doorstep to help seniors. Our specially trained patient caregivers can assist with the daily needs of the elderly and provide timely treatment for conditions like bed sores.
Antara Care at Home offers a gamut of services ranging from nursing care and physiotherapy for elderly at home to neuro care, home critical care, and health check on wheels, bringing the best senior care services in India to your home. Our caregivers follow all clinical protocols to ensure your loved ones are monitored and cared for at all times.
To know more about our comprehensive senior care at home solutions in Delhi NCR, Bengaluru, and Chennai, dial 98114 41111.