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Need to Know

Bedsores and the Elderly: Providing Home Care

Bedsores can be a problem
Our caregivers are trained to help reduce them

When caring for an elderly individual it is important to be aware of any and all ailments that may affect their lives on a daily basis. One ailment that can easily be developed is decubitus ulcers or bedsores. Bedsores can be more commonly known as pressure sores or ulcers, but it forms when an elderly individual’s skin is in contact with a bed or a wheelchair for an extended period of time.

At Alvita Care, we train all our home caregivers to be wary and treat any signs of bedsores before they become a problem. This article can be used to learn more information about bedsores, how your loved one may be at risk for them, preventative measures, and treatment options. While bedsores can be painful, there are treatment methods to help ease their pain of them and to decrease their presence before it becomes a larger issue.

Bedsores form when there is a lack of padding in an individual’s muscle or fat.

A common area where bedsores often present themselves is in the tailbone, the shoulder blades, the hips, heels, and elbows. When an elderly individual lacks mobility, it cuts off their circulation, causing bedsores to form. As blood flow decreases and is compressed, the tissue in one’s skin is deprived of oxygen and nutrients, causing the skin to die. Typically, this can happen in a day, but it is not always noticeable until a few days or weeks later.

Additional outside elements such as surgery, illness, wheelchair or bed stiffness, arthritis, or injury all can increase the risk of an elderly individual having bedsores. Those that are diabetic or paraplegic also are at an increased risk as it is more common for them to lose feeling in different areas of their body. Finally, there are two additional areas that can cause bedsores to be formed. These areas involve shear and friction that affects elderly individuals’ skin.

Shear happens when a person’s skin moves in one direction, but the bone is moving in the opposite direction.

This can happen when your loved one is placed into a bed or a wheelchair during transfer and can cause the skin to shear. Friction occurs due to constant moving and rubbing of the skin, and it can cause the skin to break down and become thin in certain areas. This especially happens as skin becomes more fragile with age. At Alvita Care, we train our home caregivers to watch for signs of shear and friction and treat them at the first sign.

There are a few different risk factors & stages that bed sores can occur in.

Bedsores are usually common as a person becomes older and their skin is more fragile. While it may seem minor, a small cut or tear can lead to bedsores if not properly treated in elderly individuals during their routine activities. Additional risk factors include smoking, no pain perception, incontinence when using the bathroom, malnutrition, dementia, or diabetes.

In order to be aware of bedsores and how they progress, there are four different stages that our caregivers are trained to monitor.

When a person has stage 1 bedsores they may have itchy or red skin. Occasionally, the sore is hot or spongy when touched, but it can also feel hard. When the individual has darker skin, bedsores may look purple or blue and can be flaky or ashy. These marks typically disappear when pressure is removed from the spot.

For a stage 2 bedsore, the sore typically looks as though it is a blister or abrasion. This is a warning sign, especially if the skin is discolored. Proper treatment is encouraged immediately at this moment to ensure that bedsore heals properly.

During stage 3, bedsores become very painful, and treatment is more difficult. This pain is due to the ulcer extending through one’s skin layer to the muscle. If the wound looks deep, the tissue around that area of the skin is most likely destroyed. In the final stage, bedsores can destroy an individual’s muscles, bones, tendons, and joints. This tends to be lethal, and at Alvita Care, our home caregivers work hard to ensure bedsores are treated before they get to a more serious stage.

In order to prevent bedsores, we encourage our caregivers to ensure they are constantly re-positioning their loved one’s body when they are in a bed or a wheelchair, every few hours in a bed, or every couple of minutes in a wheelchair. This helps to prevent bedsores, and if it continues, special pillows, mattresses, or cushions can be ordered to help alleviate sores. Using support for one’s legs is also important as it helps to keep the body circulated. Finally, we encourage all our New York City and Long Island home caregivers at Alvita Care to constantly monitor and inspect your loved ones for any bedsores and treat them at the first sign. This helps ensure that a cure is easily achievable.

There are some additional recommended treatments for bedsores. These include improving your loved one’s nutrition, ensuring any wounds are regularly cleaned, and that the wound is dressed properly. At Alvita Care, we can assist with all of these home care treatment options to stop bedsores in their tracks. We encourage you to look into additional resources online and contact us if you have more questions regarding bedsores, or you can call us at Alvita Care today at 212-273-0490, and we can help answer any of your questions.

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