Whether it’s a skilled nursing facility like Corning Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing or you’re a home caregiver, pressure ulcers – also known as bedsores – are one of the most common health concerns for the elderly.
Centers Health Care facilities like Corning Center goes to great lengths to ensure residents do not get pressure ulcers, but it can be more of a challenge for the caregiver who may take care of a loved one at home.
Pressure ulcers can generally be prevented by following these five steps provided by the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
- Change Positions Frequently
The number one cause of pressure ulcers is people remaining in the same position for extended periods of time, whether its in a regular chair, wheelchair, or a bed (hence the term bedsores). For a person confined in a wheelchair, readjust every 15-20 minutes by having the person lean forward or shift from side to side. The recommendation for people in bed is to move every one to two hours.
- Make Sure the Skin is Hydrated
Dry skin is more susceptible to pressure ulcers, so make sure the person stays hydrated. A nutritious diet high in protein will also keep the skin healthy from the inside.
- Protect the Skin from the Outside
If you are bathing the senior, be sure to use a soft cloth with a non-irritating body wash. Pat the skin dry and use moisturizer or lotion so the skin does not get dry and cracked.
- Pay Attention to Clothing
Hard areas of clothing can be rough on the skin if it’s pressing against it for too long. Things like buttons, zippers, and seams can damage aged skin.
- Always be Checking
Inspect your loved one’s skin regularly and look for red areas so you can try to curb pressure ulcers before they become an issue. Check bony areas well, and if there are red spots, see if you can determine the cause.
At the first sign of a pressure ulcer, the Mayo Clinic advises changing positions frequently and making sure the patient is adequately hydrated. Seek a health professional’s care if it doesn’t improve within a day or two.