We all know how uncomfortable it is to sit or lie in one position for a long time.
For those who have limited ability to change positions or are confined to a bed or wheelchair, not only is it uncomfortable, it can cause pressure sores from prolonged pressure on the skin, which limits blood flow to the skin, depriving it of nutrients and oxygen. Pressure sores can be serious, but they can be prevented with just a little extra care and attention.
This kind of damage to the skin is also referred to as a bed sore or pressure ulcer and most often occurs on skin that covers bony areas of the body, such as:
- Shoulder blades and spine
- Back or sides of the head for someone who is bedridden
Not only are pressure sores painful, they can be serious and require medical attention. It’s important to keep an eye out for areas on the skin that are showing signs of redness, tenderness, swelling and other types of irritation.
The Mayo Clinic lists these symptoms and warning signs of pressure ulcers:
- Unusual changes in skin color or texture
- An area of skin that feels cooler or warmer to the touch than other areas
- Tender areas
Pressure sores can develop quickly, and since they respond best to treatment when detected early, it’s important to check for sores daily and focus on prevention, especially with elderly individuals who may be aging in place at home.
Tips for helping loved ones prevent pressure sores:
- Ensure someone is available to help your mom or dad shift weight frequently and change positions every hour or two.
- Keep skin clean and dry. Moisture is a common culprit. Use mild soap and a soft cloth.
- Be aware that buttons, zippers, and even folds in clothing or bedding can cause skin irritation.
- Make sure they eat nutritious foods and drink plenty of fluids.
- Take appropriate daily exercise. This might mean going for a walk, or something as simple as range of motion exercises such as lifting an arm and holding it up for a few moments.
- Use pillows. Pillows can help prevent bed sores by being placed between parts of the body that press against each other — such as between the legs when lying on their side, or for cushioning under the tailbone, heels or elbows.
Caregivers at Take My Hand At-Home Care can help your parent or grandparent stay safe by proactively working to prevent pressure sores. At-home caregivers can help monitor skin conditions and treat early-onset bed sores before they become too serious. The awareness and care that we provide can help your loved one shift positions, get up and get moving, eat regularly and stay hydrated, clean and comfortable.
To learn more about the symptoms, causes, risk factors, complications and prevention of pressure sores, visit the Mayo Clinic website.
Our caregiver and home companion service is a locally owned and operated eldercare provider helping seniors in Whatcom County continue to live at home safely. If you would like more information about hiring help at home for an aging family member, and how we can help care for your loved one, contact Take My Hand At-Home Care.