It's hard to overstate just how important it is to prevent pressure ulcers in seniors. Sometimes called pressure sores, pressure injuries or bedsores, they are extremely easy to come by for certain seniors, and incredibly difficult to heal. They can also be terribly uncomfortable and detrimental to a senior's health and overall well being. Avoiding them in the first place is, by far, the best course of action.
What Causes Pressure Ulcers?
Pressure ulcers are the result of something pressing into the skin, usually over a bony area, for a period of time. It stops blood flow to the area, which causes the skin and surrounding tissue to die. Pressure can come from an ill-fitting shoe or brace. Often it comes from a bed mattress or chair cushion when a senior spends a lot of time sitting or lying down. Common areas pressure ulcers form include:
Seniors who have difficulty moving part of their body are at the highest risk. Other factors that greatly increase a senior's risk for developing pressure ulcers include:
Why are Pressure Ulcers Difficult to Heal?
The very factors that make pressure ulcers so easy to form are the same ones that work against their healing. The body needs nutrition, hydration and movement to heal these wounds. It becomes vitally important to completely remove pressure from the area for a very long time as it heals. However, usually the reason the ulcer formed where it did was because the senior prefers to sit or lie in that position. For example, many seniors have trouble sleeping on their side, but with an ulcer on their spine or tailbone, they can't lie on their back, or sit easily, without pressure. Spending weeks and months lying on one side or the other is very uncomfortable. Some return to their back in their sleep without realizing it. Seniors with dementia may not understand and may not be cooperative.
How do Pressure Ulcers Affect a Senior's Health?
Wounds take protein and energy to heal. A senior who was already not getting enough nutrition now has even higher nutritional needs. The pain may require medication, which can lead to falls or other damaging side effects. Their mobility may be further impacted. A senior's activity level has a significant impact on their well being, affecting sleep, appetite, depression, constipation, cognition and many other facets of health and quality of life.
How can a Senior Prevent Pressure Ulcers from Developing?
To prevent pressure ulcers, seniors should:
How can Elderly Care Help a Senior Avoid Pressure Ulcers?
Elderly care aides can help seniors stay active, with walks or transportation services to the gym or exercise classes. Elderly care aides can help immobile seniors reposition regularly in their beds or chairs. They can support good nutrition and hydration with meal preparation and reminders or assistance to eat or drink as needed. Elderly care aides can help with incontinence care, bathing, lotioning and other personal care to maintain good skin health and prevent pressure ulcers.
If you or an aging loved one are considering Elderly Care Services in Arlington Heights IL, contact the caring staff at Gentle Home Services. Call today (800) 860-9823.