4 Steps for Preventing Pressure Sores in the Elderly

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As we age or spend time in a long-term care facility, the chances of getting a pressure sore grow. Preventing sores by recognizing the signs can help you to minimize the risks of contracting them. Follow these tips to keep yourself healthy. 

Know what causes them 

Knowing the dangers of pressure sores can help you know when they are developing and treat them early. Pressure sores happen when individuals have limited mobility and can’t change positions on their own. Usually, a caretaker needs to move the person or turn them so that pressure sores do not develop. 

A negligent caretaker will often leave the person unattended for too long in one position making it likely that they will get pressure sores. 

The early warning signs of pressure sore include:

  • Tender, painful, or itchy areas of the body
  • Swelling or drainage of the affected area 
  • Warm or cold areas of the skin compared to the surrounding area 
  • Changes in color or texture of the skin. Can be red, purple, blue, or black. 

Pressure sores come in different stages and become worse over time. This is why they are easier to treat early. Check the following most common areas for pressure sores:

  • Buttock area 
  • Tailbone 
  • Hip bone area 
  • Elbows, heels, ankles
  • Back of the head 

Use good mattresses and pillows 

Thin or hard mattresses make it more likely for pressure sores to develop. Use a foam mattress and soft pillows or foam between parts of the body that press against each other or the bed. Also, put foam between your knees and ankles. 

You can also put foam or pillows in these areas:

  • Under the heels 
  • Under the tailbone area
  • Under your shoulders and shoulder blades 
  • Under your elbows 

You can also follow these tips:

  • Keep sheets and clothing dry and smooth
  • Remove any objects out of the bed 
  • Don’t raise the head of the bed more than 30 degrees 
  • Check your skin often
  • Don’t drag yourself around the bed or across the bed 
  • Make sure the person moving you uses a draw sheet and doesn’t lift you roughly 
  • Make sure you are being moved every 1-2 hours 

Check on your loved ones 

If you have a loved one in a nursing home, check that they have pillows in the proper places. Also, ensure that they are being flipped or changed positions every 1 to 2 hours. Ask the nurse or assistant on duty what the protocols are for pressure sores and their treatment. 

Regularly check your loved one for pressure sores. Ask them if they are in any pain and how often the nurse comes in to help them flip. 

If you notice that sores are developing, tell the nurse or person on duty right away. Ask them for treatment and ensure your loved one is not left with untreated sores. 

Make sure you are using the right wheelchair 

Wheelchairs can also be a way to easily create pressure sores. Wheelchairs need to be fitted correctly to ensure that they are not rubbing your skin. Have a doctor check the fit of your wheelchair once or twice a year. 

If you have gained weight, ask the doctor to check the wheelchair and see if it still fits correctly. If you notice it pressing on you or causing pain, tell the doctor or caregiver right away. 

Also, follow these tips:

  • Sit on a foam or gel cushion 
  • Do not sit on a donut shape cushion 
  • Lean forward often 
  • Lead from side to side often 
  • Ask the caregiver to lift your weight every 15-20 minutes 
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