Less severe wounds can heal within weeks if you adhere to the following steps for treating bed sores, according to Medical News Today.
- Eliminate pressure from the sore. The first step to treating bed sores is removing the pressure from the wound. You can do this by moving the patient and helping them to lie in a new position or using cushions or pillows to prop up parts of the body in a way that would ease their pain.
- Clean the wound. Minor bedsore wounds can be cleaned with antibacterial soap and water. On the other hand, open wounds need to be cleaned with saline solution every time you change the dressing. To promote faster healing, keep the site clean, dry, and free of irritants that can delay the process of healing.
- Control incontinence. As much as you can, control the loss of bladder and bowel control. Failure to do this can cause the bedsores to heal slowly or further become infected. If the elderly person is unable to use the bathroom, consider using diapers and changing it as often as possible and ensuring that the patient is always clean and dry.
- Remove dead tissue. For a wound to heal well, debridement is necessary. Dead and infected tissues make it difficult for healing to take place. The treatment of bedsores depends on the stage and condition of the ulcer. An open wound is likely to heal rapidly due to the damage to the skin and other tissues. Per Drugs.com, common nonselective methods of debridement include the wet to dry bandage method and using a hypochlorite solution. The former uses a wet gauze placed on the wound and left to dry. When the gauze is removed, it brings along dead tissue. The hypochlorite solution kills any germs on the wound and removes the dead tissue slowly.
- Apply dressings and use antibiotics. The dressings protect the wound from irritants and further infections. It also creates a good environment for healing. You may use over-the-counter antibacterial cream or oral antibiotics.
What Causes Bed Sores?
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, bed sores can form if blood supply is cut off to the skin for more than two to three hours. Typically, they are caused by:
- Continuous pressure. If there is pressure on the skin on one side and the bone on the other, blood cannot flow adequately, depriving the skin tissue of oxygen and other essential nutrients. This is often seen when an elderly person lies or sits for too long in one position.
- Friction. Elderly patients with thin, frail skin and poor circulation are likely to develop bedsores from friction since their skin is more fragile and susceptible to injury. This is why caregivers are advised to maintain bedsheets properly since particles and other irritants can cause skin irritations.
- Shear. The skin moving in one direction and the bones moving in the other can result in bed sores. To prevent bedsores by shearing, nursing home caregivers must exercise great care when moving patients with mobility issues. Shearing can also occur if the top half of the bed is elevated too high.
Areas Targeted by Bed Sores
It is not uncommon to find bed sores on the following areas of the body,
- Buttocks area
- Shoulder blades
- Back of the head
- Backs and sides of the knees
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Preventing Bed Sores in the Elderly
Outside of the treatment of bed sores, you can also implement effective actions that prevent them from forming in the first place. These include:
- Placing soft paddings in beds and wheelchairs to eliminate pressure
- Turning and repositioning immobile patients every two hours
- Keeping the skin clean, dry, and moisturized
- Changing the sitting position of those confined to wheelchairs every 15 minutes
- Improving blood circulation by implementing activities that will guide residents to move around or massaging specific areas of the body to encourage adequate blood flow in those that are immobile
- Serving residents with healthy meals that contain all the nutrients needed to keep them healthy and help the body to heal faster.
Taking Legal Action
When a nursing home fails to implement effective ways to prevent bed sores in the elderly and subjects the resident to pain and suffering, they can be held liable. If you would like to take legal action against the nursing home, Ben Crump Law, PLLC can help you fight for compensation. To see how we can be helpful, contact us today at (800) 959-1444 to discuss your case for free.