Pressure Ulcers

Pressure Ulcers

S. Ahmed

Sep, 2023 - 4mins

How to prevent bed sores in seniors at home

The doctor seals the wound to the patient
Photo by diana pole on Unsplash

Pressure ulcers, also known as bed sores or pressure sores, are a genuine concern in elderly care. These ulcers occur when continuous pressure damages the skin and underlying tissues, ranging from persistent redness to deep, bone-exposing sores.

Sadly, around 180,000 UK patients develop pressure ulcers yearly, becoming one of the leading causes of preventable deaths. Although older adults with limited mobility and health issues are at higher risk, it’s important to note that pressure ulcers are not a normal part of healthy ageing.

With dedicated care provided by trained caregivers, pressure ulcers can be entirely preventable and effectively treated.

Older Adults Are at Increased Risk of Pressure Ulcers

Pressure ulcers occur when tissue is compressed between two surfaces (like a chair and bone), limiting blood supply to the tissue leading to injury or tissue death. Since seniors are usually less active and may remain in one position for long, their risk of pressure sores increases.

There are two common reasons of pressure sores in older adults:

Ulcers Due To Direct Pressure

It’s not uncommon for seniors to be confined to bed, a chair, or a wheelchair, unable or reluctant to shift positions without assistance due to health conditions or pain. 

Since the skin and tissues require sufficient blood flow to get oxygen and nutrients to remain healthy, prolonged pressure can impede this, resulting in damage and deterioration. The absence of proper care can result in painful pressure sores in our beloved seniors.

Ulcers Due To Indirect Pressure (Friction and Shear)

When seniors are moved over bed sheets for repositioning, the friction and rubbing motion can lead to skin breakdown, especially as the skin becomes thinner and more delicate with age.

Additionally, seniors often slide down beds or chairs, where their tailbones and shoulder blades move while the skin remains in place. This stretching and tearing can be painful and harmful.

Poor diet and inadequate hydration can significantly increase the risk of pressure ulcers and can even slow down the healing process. 

On that note, seniors may also develop bed sores when their skin is not effectively kept dry from incontinence or perspiration.

Proper Caring for Pressure Ulcers Can Cure Them

Early detection of pressure ulcers is crucial for effective treatment. Our trained caregivers play a vital role not only in preventing pressure ulcers among older adults but also in identifying them at an early stage to prevent serious infections and potential fatalities.

We can distinguish four distinct stages of pressure ulcers, each with specific symptoms:

Stage 1: The skin may appear discoloured, warm to the touch, and accompanied by itching and burning. Lighter skin tones may show redness, while darker skin tones may exhibit purplish-blue discolouration.

  • Care: Gently cleanse the area, using moisture barriers when necessary. 

Stage 2: There’s visible superficial skin damage in the form of open blisters, sores, or scrapes, often causing considerable pain or discomfort.

  • Care: Cleanse the area with a saline rinse or cleanser recommended by a GP or nurse. Apply special dressings to promote healing and prevent infections.

Stage 3, stage 4 and deep tissue injury stage: These are deeper wounds that penetrate all three layers of the skin. Left untreated stage 3 ulcers can progress to stage 4, affecting muscles and even bones. Beware of deep tissue injuries, as they can be deceiving, with discoloured skin hiding severe tissue damage beneath.

  • Care: Our dedicated care workers adhere to the guidance of healthcare providers when providing wound care for deep sores, Stage 3 and Stage 4 pressure ulcers. 

We prioritise the well-being and healing of our elderly loved ones with compassion and professionalism.

Trained care workers can help prevent bed sores with meticulous care

Prevention is absolutely crucial when it comes to pressure ulcers. At Pair my Care, our trained care workers prioritise the following measures to prevent pressure ulcers in seniors.

1. Identify risk factors and promote movement

We keep your elderly loved ones active with exercises, walks, and range of motion exercises to enhance circulation and prevent pressure sores. We vary their seating positions, use pressure aids, and avoid prolonged periods of sitting or lying down in one position. Regular repositioning, ideally every 2 hours, is crucial to maximum prevention while being mindful not to drag the skin.

2. Regular Skin Checks for Early Detection

Our vigilant caregivers frequently assess your loved ones’ skin for signs of pressure injuries, as pressure sores can develop rapidly. During perineal care, showers, or routine skin assessments, we carefully examine and document any indications of pressure sore development. Rest assured; our experienced caregivers know when to consult health providers if concerns arise.

3. Utilise Specialty Bedding and Materials

Our caregivers are well-versed in using speciality beds such as water or air mattress toppers, as well as cushioned padding like heel protectors. We employ innovative options such as memory foam pillows and soft wedges, combined with manual repositioning, to effectively relieve pressure and provide optimal support.

4. Maintain Skin Hygiene and Dryness

In addition to regular skincare, we take proactive measures to address any redness in the perineal area or skin folds, which may indicate Stage I pressure sores. Our caregivers use appropriate barrier creams to protect the skin and consistent repositioning and movement to prevent further deterioration. We always prioritise consulting your GP or nurse before using creams, ointments, or powders.

5. Encourage a Healthy Diet

Proper nutrition is essential for maintaining a healthy circulatory system, optimal healing of pressure sores, and overall well-being. Our caregivers provide meal preparation and feeding services to ensure older care recipients can access a balanced, nutritious diet. For clients with metabolic disorders like diabetes, a healthy diet becomes even more crucial.

6. Effective Management of Chronic Health Conditions

Chronic health conditions significantly contribute to the risk of pressure injuries in elderly seniors. Our dedicated caregivers diligently manage these conditions by monitoring fluid intake, adhering to dietary restrictions, and ensuring medications do not adversely affect circulatory function. This comprehensive approach helps prevent and minimise the development of pressure sores.

At Pair my Care, we are committed to providing compassionate and caring support, ensuring the well-being of your loved ones by effectively addressing the prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers. Hire our trained and experienced caregivers to give your elderly loved ones the support and care they require to lead a peaceful, healthy life. You can get further information from NHS website or Mayoclinic

‘Pressure ulcers pose a huge risk to patient well-being and health outcomes, therefore it is imperative organisations take a pro-active approach to prevent pressure ulcers and ensure staff are trained to identify the early stages of pressure ulcers on all skin tones’  –

Dr Luthfun Nessa

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