Elder care

How to prevent pressure sores in seniors

A better understanding of what causes pressure sores helps caregivers take better care of their elderly loved ones. A pressure sore (also known as pressure ulcer and bedsore) is a result of tissue getting compressed between bone and an external surface. Pressure sores affect seniors who are unable to move and change position regularly. Prolonged pressure on the compressed areas leads to reduced blood supply (and eventual death) to the skin and underlying muscle tissues. Skin becomes dry and flaky and can break open which allows bacteria to enter the wound. 

Pressure sores/ulcers are located in areas such as the head and ears, elbows, shoulders, heels, and the sacral region and are graded or staged to classify the degree of tissue damage.

A body indicating the areas of the body where pressure sores may occur

Pressure sores are characterized by four stages dependent on the severity and depth of the lesion

Stage 1:    Pressure sores involve the superficial skin layer. The area has prolonged redness or “non-blanchable redness” (the area is red and does not go back to normal color when the senior is moved). The area can also turn pale or shiny and white.

Stage 2: Pressure sores involve superficial lesions to the top layer of skin. This results in a shallow depression or abrasion causing skin breakdown, blisters, shallow craters, edema, drainage, and possibly infection.

Stage 3: Pressure sores have full skin loss and extension into the subcutaneous tissue causing necrosis, drainage, and localized infection.

Stage 4: Pressure sores have damaged the muscle, fascia, and bone with deep infections, drainage, and death of the tissue (necrosis). Consequently, when a senior enters this stage they will always have a stage 4 ulcer. Although pressure sores may heal on the surface, the sores are deep and usually slow to heal. Due to this, pressure sores re-open easily.

Image showing the 4 stages of pressure sores

In most cases, seniors have special skin care needs because their skin becomes dry and thin as they age. If it becomes too dry, skin is prone to cracking and dermatitis. In addition, this allows for the growth of bacteria which can result in infection. Prevention of and assessment for pressure sores/ulcers and skin tears will avoid discomfort and decreased quality of life for seniors.

Prevent pressure ulcers and skin tears:

  • Relieve pressure by off-loading weight  
  • Prevent shearing and friction with careful transfers
  • Provide good personal care
  • Adequate nutrition and hydration
  • Loose, non-binding clothing

What can you do as a caregiver?

  • Reposition often: seniors need to be turned frequently to avoid pressure-sensitive ulcers.  
  • Check skin and all pressure points frequently
  • Give good skin care: powder which keeps areas clean and dry, lotion which keeps skin hydrated and elastic
  • Give good perineal care—toilet often and clean area well
  • Help the client exercise regularly – whatever the client is capable of doing
  • Make sure bed linens are clean, dry and wrinkle free
  • Give gentle massages to increase blood flow
  • Encourage fluids and good nutrition
  • Use pressure reducing devices: pillows, coccyx cushion, air mattress, barrier cream

What should you report to the doctor, Home Health nurse, or other healthcare providers?

  • Redness that won’t go away
  • Pale, white, shiny area over a bony prominence
  • Red, hot, tender to touch
  • Pressure ulcer that has increased in size or depth
  • Senior reports pain
Aspen Senior Care team photo

Aspen Senior Care has won Provider of Choice for 8 years in a row!

Aspen Senior Care trains our caregivers to follow these guidelines to ensure we provide our clients with the best possible care. We know how important it is to have caregivers our clients can trust. Because of this, we provide monthly in-service training to cover important educational topics. This improves the quality of life for both the caregiver and the senior receiving care.  Click here to learn more about our professional caregivers.


 

Information presented by Amanda Hensler

First Choice Home Health & Hospice

What is respite care?

Respite care is short-term care provided to a dependent, disabled, or elderly person with the purpose of giving the main caregiver a break from caregiving responsibilities. This is done while at the same time making sure your loved one is well cared for and able to follow his or her regular routine.

Respite care allows family caregivers to care for loved ones long-term, avoiding caregiver burnout. The care can be designed for a few hours, a day or for longer periods of time depending on what the caregiver needs and what type of care is needed and what services are available in your area.

What types of respite care are there?

There are several types of respite care available.

  • In-home care is provided by a licensed agency specializing in care for seniors or others needing special care. This may be for a short period of time or up to several days to a day, whatever the family caregiver might need in order to get a much-needed break or visit with family or friends. Respite care provided by an agency allows the caregiver peace of mind knowing their loved one is being cared for by someone who is trained to provide personal care, make nutritious meals, and handle challenging behaviors or situations that may come up.
  • Adult Day Care Centers provide licensed care during day-time hours, usually five days a week at a warm & welcoming facility. This is a great option for family caregivers who work during the day. Some caregivers choose to bring a loved one a few days a week on a regular basis.Adult day centers are a nice option in that they provide socialization, activities and nutritious meals. All adult day programs are NOT the same so it’s important to visit and ask questions when considering this type of respite option.
  • Specialized respite care facilities are places with staff trained for specific care, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, where a loved one may stay for several days or a couple of weeks when the caregiver needs to go out of town or has other obligations.
  • Emergency respite care offers help and care on an emergency basis. Usually, home care agencies or respite care facilities offer this type of care.
  • Informal respite care is provided by family members or neighbors and usually allow a limited but much-needed break for the primary caregiver to run errands, go to a doctor’s appointment or simply take some time off from caregiving.dsc01792

What are the benefits of respite care?

Caring for someone with special needs can be overwhelming at times. Family caregivers today have family, work, church and community obligations on top of providing care for their loved-one.

They want to provide the best care and attention to everyone in their circle of influence but this is unrealistic and overwhelming. It can lead to caregiver burnout.

Respite care allows the caregiver to step back and take time for themselves, to refresh and recharge their energy and focus. It actually helps caregivers become better caregivers and take care of their responsibilities longer.

Dementia Orem, UtahIf you are interested in learning more about respite care options call Aspen Senior Care at 801-224-5910. We can help you find options and help determine what type of respite might be right for you. We provide in-home respite care and we also run the Aspen Senior Day Center in Provo which is an adult day center that specializes in working with individuals with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.

Visit our websites at www.aspenseniorcare.com and www.aspenseniorcenter.org to learn more about the services we provide and how we can help.