If you are caring for a relatively sedentary senior patient at home, one of the biggest risks to their health is pressure ulcers. Read on to learn what pressure ulcers are, who is at risk for them, and how you can prevent them.

What Are Pressure Ulcers?

Pressure ulcers are also known as bed sores or decubitus ulcers. They are sores that form when pressure on one spot of the body cuts off circulation to that area.

At first pressure ulcers start off as red hot spots, much like blisters do. If left untreated, they progress to open, weeping sores, which can be quite painful. They also put the patient at risk for tissue damage, soft tissue infection, and bone infection.

Who Is At Risk for Pressure Ulcers?

Pressure ulcers commonly result from people sitting or lying in one position for too long. They can also come from rubbing of clothing or equipment, such as monitor cables, catheters, and oxygen tubing. Sometimes pressure sores result from areas where the skin rubs on itself by folding over.

Many patients with pressure sores have baseline poor circulation that makes them prone to ulceration. Diabetics and people with peripheral vascular disease are at particular risk.

Patients with dementia are also at risk of bed sores, because they are unaware of their own bodies. People who experience paralysis are also at risk due to lack of sensation. Other risk factors include poor hygiene, very dry skin, and excess moisture on the skin.

How Can You Prevent Pressure Ulcers?

Preventing pressure ulcers means identifying the risk factors and being on the lookout for hot spots that could turn into sores. There are a number of things home health care providers can do:

  1. Move patients frequently so their weight isn't on the same spots all the time. You also want to keep weight off existing sores or hot spots, as well as bony areas that are prone to sores.
  2. Watch out for medications that affect a patient's alertness.
  3. Keep diabetes and circulatory problems in check, as best as possible.
  4. Change the patient's clothing regularly, as often as you do your own.
  5. Bathe the patient regularly and apply moisturizer to dry skin.
  6. Watch out for incontinence or urinary tract infections that could contribute to excess moisture. Try to keep sweaty skin dryer.
  7. Improve the health of the skin through proper hydration, good nutrition, and abstaining from smoking.
  8. Use fleece padding, air boots, etc., to provide additional cushioning to sore-prone areas.

If you are caring for a senior on your own, you may need to hire professional help to assist you in the home. A home care service like ComForcare Home Care - Venice, FL can offer help with bathing, changing incontinence products, dressing, and moving the patient and their medical equipment as needed.

Any sores on a senior patient should be examined by a physician. They can recommend how to best keep pressure off that particular area of the body, as well as check for possible infection and prescribe any needed antibiotics.