Bedsores, or “pressure ulcers,” are a common affliction among people of any age who are bedridden or confined to wheelchairs – but the elderly may be especially vulnerable.
These sores develop when pressure on the body reduces blood flow to the skin and muscle underneath, which eventually causes tissue damage. Aside from being painful, bedsores can lead to serious complications, including infections, sepsis and death.
Spotting and treating bedsores
The first step in treating bedsores is identifying them. Bedsores typically develop in areas where the skin and tissue are under constant pressure from contact with a bed or chair, such as a senior’s heels, hips, lower back and buttocks. The sores may start as red, warm, tender, or swollen spots on the skin, and then develop into open sores or ulcers.
If you suspect that a loved one has bedsores, seek medical attention for them as soon as possible. Early treatment can prevent further damage and reduce the risk of lethal complications. Here are some additional steps that healthcare providers should also take to treat your loved one’s existing bedsores and stop new ones from forming:
- Relieve the pressure: This may involve changing the patient’s position frequently or using special cushions or pads to keep the affected parts of their body lifted.
- Clean and dress the wound: The wound needs to be thoroughly cleaned and covered with a sterile dressing.
- Use ointments or antibiotics: Depending on the severity of the wound, it may be necessary to use antibiotics or other medications to treat infections.
Bedsores can be painful, so healthcare providers may also need to prescribe pain medication or other therapies to manage your loved one’s discomfort.
Early treatment can prevent complications and improve outcomes. Additionally, taking steps to prevent bedsores from developing in the first place is essential – and there’s really no excuse for bedsores to get out of control. If you suspect that nursing home neglect played a role in your loved one’s bedsores, find out more about your legal options.