Bedsores are also known as pressure ulcers or pressure sores. Many elderly people develop bedsores due to their lack of mobility accompanied by the fact they are either bedridden or must remain in a wheelchair. Injuries to the skin and tissue often develop due to prolonged pressure upon the skin. Typically, the skin most affected tends to be that which covers bonier areas of the body such as the hips, heels, ankles, shoulders, or tailbone.
Many elderly residents of nursing homes remain unable to reposition themselves or have limited ability to independently move on their own. This limited ability to move results in a static position wherein one area continues to receive pressure continuously. Bedsores can develop quite quickly, and it is imperative that any bedsore receives immediate medical attention.
Warning Signs of Bedsores
The first warning sign of a bedsore is simply that a nursing home resident may have limited mobility. This should place the nursing home on immediate notice that they need to exercise additional measures to monitor and reposition patients who are confined to beds and wheelchairs. However, knowing that these elderly residents are more susceptible to bedsores, nursing home staff members should know the warning signs of their development.
Often, one of the first signs of a bedsore is a change in the skin color of the elderly resident. This change can be subtle and first present as simple redness. However, in other cases, the skin could become dark red or even change in texture.
In some cases, the skin surrounding the bedsores will become swollen and warm to the touch. In some cases, the skin may become cooler to the touch. Additionally, the skin may have pus-like drainage, and the victim will feel the area is tender or, in some cases, itchy.
Blisters or Open Sores
Another warning sign of a bedsore is something that appears similar to a blister or even an open wound on the skin. This warning sign occurs a bit later than discoloration and swelling but is still in the earlier stages of bedsores when the ability to treat and resolve a bedsore is easier. In this later stage, the discoloration may appear even darker.
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Common Sites of Bedsores
In order to ensure that an elderly resident of a nursing home does not develop serious bedsores, it is critical to monitor them frequently as well as reposition them often. There are several areas that are common sites of bedsores that should receive some sort of inspection every day.
When elderly residents are unable to move from their beds, they may lay on their backs. If this is the case, then bedsores typically appear on the heels, tailbone, elbows, shoulders, and the back of the head. Repositioning a bedridden resident at least every two hours can help in avoiding and preventing bedsores from developing.
Often, elderly residents in nursing homes will lay on their side if they are unable to move from their beds. In these cases, bedsores will typically appear on the ankles, knees, hips, shoulders or ears. Again, simple repositioning every two hours or more can completely prevent these types of bedsores from the beginning.
In other cases, elderly residents remain in wheelchairs in nursing homes. These residents should receive monitoring much more often than bedridden residents and should be repositioned every 15 minutes. The most common areas bedsores appear in for those residents who are in wheelchairs are near the shoulder blades, buttocks, backs of the thighs, heels, and the balls of the feet.
Causes of Bedsores
Understanding the causes of bedsores will help those looking for signs of them developing. The most common factors that contribute to the problem of bedsores include:
- Shearing and Friction. Often, when a person slides across bedsheets, their skin stretches and blood vessels become damaged, which can significantly impair their blood circulation.
- Moisture. If an elderly resident is wet from either perspiration, feces, or urine, the skin that is already under pressure may suffer further injury. It is important to note that those elderly residents that suffer from incontinence are at a higher risk of developing bedsores and should receive more frequent attention.
- Decreased Mobility. As previously stated, those patients who are either bedridden or confined to wheelchairs have skin that receives inadequate blood flow in the pressured areas.
- Decreased Sensation. Elderly patients that suffer from decreased sensations also are at greater risk for bedsores. These residents should receive constant monitoring and repositioning to alleviate any signs of bedsores.
- Nutrition. Elderly residents of a nursing home should receive proper nutrition throughout each day, every day. Poor nutrition can create an environment where an elderly person’s skin does not have enough protein, vitamins, and minerals, leading to thinner skin.
Reach Out to a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Today
If your elderly loved one suffered any sign of serious bedsores while they were a resident in a nursing home, it is likely that their injuries were due to the nursing home’s abuse or neglect. Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 201-3999 to help you begin the process of receiving compensation for their injuries.