Nursing home residents who are bedridden or have mobility issues often spend long hours in the same position. Without preventative care, this prolonged pressure on the skin may lead to the development of bedsores or pressure ulcers.
While anyone may develop bedsores, the elderly and people with circulation problems or diabetes may be especially at risk. Left untreated, pressure ulcers may worsen quickly, leading to damage to surrounding tissues, increasingly severe pain and a high risk of bacterial infection.
Why bedsores develop
Bedsores occur when pressure on the skin cuts off the blood supply to the area for more than 2 to 3 hours. Often, pressure sores develop on the buttocks, tailbone or hips, the shoulder blades, the back of the head, the heels of the feet or the sides and backs of the knees.
How symptoms progress
Symptoms of pressure ulcers may become progressively worse without treatment. Initially, the affected area may become warm, itchy, red and inflamed. As the ulcer advances, a blister or open sore may develop, extending deeper and causing severe damage to muscles, tendons joints and even bone.
In the later stages, there may also be a significant risk of infection, which may lead to fever, chills, rapid heartbeat, general fatigue and mental confusion.
How to prevent bedsores
Good nutrition, correct positioning, frequent turning and careful monitoring/cleaning of areas of the skin that may be under prolonged pressure are essential for preventing bedsores.
Unfortunately, residents often develop ulcers because staff fails to provide an appropriate level of care. Those concerned that a loved one is suffering needlessly should know that the law may hold the nursing home accountable for the physical and emotional harm such negligence has caused.