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Detecting and preventing bedsores for seniors

Pressure Ulcers (bed ridden).

If you’re the caregiver for an older adult who has limited mobility or is bedridden, knowing how to detect and prevent bed sores is essential. In this article, our team explains what bedsores are, why they’re so serious, and how you can keep the seniors in your life bedsore-free. 

What is a bedsore?

Sometimes called a pressure sore or a pressure ulcer, a bed sore is an open wound that develops on the surface of the skin after prolonged pressure from contact with a bone. If you’ve ever spent a long time lying in one position, you probably felt pressure points on certain parts of your body like hips or shoulders. 

Older adults who are confined to their beds often spend many consecutive hours in the same position, and this causes their bones to put pressure on their internal tissues. If they continue staying in a certain position, their circulation gets cut off and the skin breaks down, resulting in an open wound known as a bedsore. Bedsores most commonly develop on elbows, heels, tailbone, hips, and shoulder blades. 

What are some contributing factors of bedsores?

Being underweight: It’s normal for some seniors to lose weight as they age, and weight loss can also be a side effect of certain medications. A lower body weight means there is less protection against the bones pressing against the skin, meaning bedsores can develop more easily. 

Poor nutrition: We all need certain vitamins and minerals to keep our skin and our tissues strong and healthy. Talk to your loved one’s doctor about a multivitamin or a daily supplement they can take, and ensure they’re eating enough nutritious food on a daily basis. 

Certain memory impairments: Seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other cognitive impairments often have trouble communicating and may not be able to indicate that they are in pain. If your elderly loved one isn’t able to tell you when they’re feeling any discomfort, it’s especially important that you check them for bedsores on a regular basis. 

Detecting bedsores in seniors

While caring for your loved one, do a daily body scan and ask them if they feel pain or discomfort anywhere. Be on the lookout for swelling, changes in skin texture or color, or tender areas. If your loved one isn’t able to communicate with you about how they feel, and you suspect a bedsore may be developing, call their doctor immediately. Bedsores can worsen quickly, so time is of the essence.  

Preventing bedsores in seniors

    • If possible, get your loved one out of bed and get them moving. Support them on short walks if they can, or move them to their wheelchair and take them out for a little bit. Changing their position will eliminate long, sustained pressure on certain areas of their body, reducing the chance bedsores will develop. 
    • Use special mattresses and cushions that reduce pressure. Ask your loved one’s doctor if they can recommend mattresses and bedding for people at risk of getting bedsores. 
    • Help them change positions at least every two hours. Even a slight rotation can alleviate pressure on a certain part of the body, so changing positions on a regular basis is crucial. 
  • Keep their skin clean, dry, and well-moisturized. 

At our full-service assisted living communities across New Jersey, we have medical professionals and experienced caregivers on-site 24 hours a day to assist your senior loved one. If mom or dad is prone to bedsores, our dedicated associates will monitor current bedsores closely and alleviate them through proven treatments. They will also keep your senior parent moving to prevent new ones from developing. 

For more information about our assisted living services across the state, please contact our team today or visit our website at: https://umcommunities.org

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