Sitting or lying down for a long time can have undesirable effects on skin health. Unfortunately, around eight percent of patients in nursing homes suffer from pressure sores at some point or other, and up to 28 percent of home care patients also experience this condition. Immobile and bedridden seniors are highly susceptible to skin problems, but long-term caregivers can do a number of things to help them improve their skin health.
General Skin Age-Related Skin Changes
As people get older, their skin will undergo changes, and the skin problems they experience depend on several factors, such as lifestyle, diet, and personal habits. Skin changes among elderly people can be caused by the depletion of fatty tissue between the skin and muscles, facial movement over time, stress gravity, obesity, and bad habits such as smoking. Some examples of these changes include wrinkles, age spots, dry or roughened skin, loose facial skin, benign growths, thinned skin, and easily bruisable skin. Immobile and bedridden seniors experience these common skin changes too, but they are also more vulnerable to pressure sores.
Understanding Pressure Sores Among Seniors
If you are mobility-challenged or bedridden, you have a higher chance of developing pressure sores or bedsores. Also known as pressure ulcers, these sores are not only unsightly, they can also cause significant discomfort and pain. Sometimes, they can lead to infections such as meningitis, endocarditis, and cellulitis.
This skin condition usually occurs when too much pressure is applied to the skin on a certain part of the body. It can start developing as a reddened area on the skin that will not turn white when you press it. Then, it can turn into a sore, blister, or crater, and it may produce foul-smelling drainage.
If you are bedridden, the areas of your body that are more likely to develop bed sores are the tailbone, shoulder blades, hips, elbows, and heels. If you spend a lot of time sitting in a chair or wheelchair, you have a chance of getting pressure sores on your buttocks, tailbone, spine, and the backs of your legs and arms.
Preventing and Managing Pressure Sores
Long-term caregivers can help to prevent and manage pressure ulcers among elderly people. First of all, you should check for symptoms every day. Early treatment is the most effective way of managing this skin problem. Also, it is important that you change the position of the patient at least once in two hours and place pillows between body parts that press against one another. Another way to reduce chances of pressure sores occurring is to keep the patient's skin dry and clean. To a certain extent, exercise can help prevent pressure sores, even if it is performed in a sitting or lying position.
Pressure sores can make life very difficult and uncomfortable for immobile and bedridden seniors. Seniors and long-term caregivers should try to detect and treat this condition as soon as possible to prevent it from getting out of hand.