To many people, bedsores, also called pressure ulcers, are synonymous with nursing home living, especially for those who can’t walk without assistance anymore.
Certainly, those who live in nursing homes are at increased risk of developing bedsores due to their living circumstances. However, proper care and routine inspections by nursing home staff can prevent bedsores in most cases.
How do bedsores develop, and how could nursing homes prevent them?
Bedsores are the result of body pressure
People call these injuries bedsores because they tend to develop in those who are unable to move on their own. When someone stays in bed for days or weeks, they will develop red painful patches on their skin where their body weight presses down onto the mattress.
It is common for people to develop these sores on their buttocks, on the backs of their heels, on their shoulders and on the backs of their heads. Any place where the body’s weight presses down without interruption for an extended amount of time can develop bedsores eventually.
What starts out as a red, irritated patch of skin will develop into an open wound that grows larger and deeper over time. Left untreated, pressure ulcers or bedsores can affect not just the skin but the musculature underneath. Bedsores are not only painful, but they also put people at risk of developing dangerous infections.
How can nursing homes prevent bedsores?
With the right practices regarding patient care, nursing homes can prevent the vast majority of bedsores from developing beyond the initial stages. In fact, they may be able to prevent even those early, irritated patches of skin.
Frequent movement and rotation of the body prevent bedsores from developing. Encouraging a patient to move from their bed to the chair or to leave their room and socialize could reduce how long they spend in one position. Those unable to move are completely dependent on staff members coming in to help move them.
Special cushioning can also help, as there are a limited number of positions available for someone who is truly restricted to bed. Staff members frequently checking for signs of irritation is also key to early detection and treatment.
Realizing that bedsores are often early warning signs of negligent patient care can help you protect a loved one in a nursing home.