As people age, they often lose mobility because of injuries or conditions such as arthritis. Because of this loss, seniors often choose to live a nursing home where they can get assistance and maintain their best level of health. Even with the extra help, those who are bound to a sitting or reclining position most of the time are at risk for bedsores.
The Mayo Clinic explains that nursing home residents who cannot reposition their bodies well often experience prolonged pressure on the skin from the bones underneath. This can damage or destroy the tissues by cutting off the blood supply. While movement is necessary, if a person is shifted without the proper lift, the bones could press sharply against the skin from the inside and harm the tissues. Even careful movement of delicate skin across surfaces can make it more susceptible to further damage.
According to Drugs.com, thorough daily inspection of the skin is essential to prevent the development of bedsores. Once they begin, symptoms progress in the following four stages:
- Discolored skin that itches, or feels firm and cold or warm to the touch
- Blistered or ulcerated skin
- Depressed sore extending beneath the outer layer of skin
- Muscle, tendon, joint or bone affected by ulcer
The muscle or bone beneath may even be exposed by the depth of the sunken area the sore causes. If a person has a fever or there is excess heat in the area around the ulcer, or if there is drainage or odor coming from it, it may be infected.
While being moved regularly is important, it is often not enough to prevent these pressure ulcers. Health care experts recommend proper nutrition and hygiene to keep the skin healthy. When a nursing home resident first shows signs of a bedsore, caregivers should examine all possible contributing factors to eliminate the risk of greater harm and improve treatment success.