Pressure Sore Management Advice from Private In-Home Caregivers

Female caregiver helping senior manImpacting approximately one out of every ten older adults, and even more widespread in those who smoke, in those with chronic diseases such as diabetes, or whose skin is more fragile, pressure sores (also known as bed sores or pressure injuries) are not just very painful – they can quickly advance to infections that can spread to the bloodstream and even become deadly.

For individuals with minimal movement or who are wheelchair- or bed-bound, and those who provide care for them, the struggle against pressure sores can seem endless. Resulting from a decrease of blood flow when continuing to be in one position for too long, it is crucial for those caring for an older loved one to educate themselves about pressure sore protection. Try some of these guidelines for pressure sore management and prevention to help protect your loved one’s vulnerable skin from these dangerous sores:

  • Position Modifications
    • Every hour if wheelchair-bound, every two hours if bedbound
    • Make use of lifting instruments when possible to eliminate friction during repositioning
  • Supportive Devices
    • Use specialized cushions and pads:
      • In between ankles and knees
      • Under calves to protect heels
      • To lie at an angle, protecting hips
  • Skin Care
    • Utilize mild soap and warm (not hot) water and apply moisturizing lotion
    • For excessively moist skin, use talcum powder
    • Massage areas susceptible to pressure sores to increase circulation
  • Healthy Nutrition and Activity Choices
    • Check with your loved one’s doctor for dietary and supplement guidelines for optimal skin health
    • Maintain good hydration
    • Stop smoking
    • Daily exercise (as appropriate and per doctor’s guidelines)

If, despite taking these precautionary measures, your loved one develops a pressure sore, it will advance through the four stages below:

  • Stage 1: A blue, purple or reddish bruise-like spot on the skin can be observed, which may be warmer than the surrounding skin and cause sensations of itching or burning.
  • Stage 2: An open sore manifests on the bruise, similar to a blister or abrasion. Discoloration and soreness come with this stage.
  • Stage 3: As the sore gets worse, the surrounding skin darkens and the area is deeper.
  • Stage 4: At this phase, damage occurs to the bone, muscle and/or joints, and osteomyelitis (a severe infection of the bone) or even sepsis (a life-threatening blood infection) can take place.

Be sure to contact your loved one’s health care provider right away if a pressure sore is detected. Live Well at Home’s private in-home caregivers can also provide assistance by inspecting skin each day to identify vulnerable areas of the skin and detect the early signs of pressure sores, as well as assist with mobility, turning and transferring to lower the risk of developing sores. We are only a phone call away to help your senior loved ones in the Sacramento area. Contact us today at 916-459-3220.

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