One serious problem faced by many people in nursing homes is that of bedsores or pressure ulcers. These sores damage the cells of the skin. People who cannot freely move about are at the highest risk for bedsores. Pressure against the skin causes bedsores. The pressure does not even have to be that great; it simply has to cut off the blood circulation to a particular area. Common sites where bedsores occur are on the tailbone, shoulder blades, heels, backs of arms and legs, or on the hip.
If you have a loved one in a nursing home who has mobility issues, you might want to watch for these warning signs of bedsores:
- Changes in skin color
- The skin feels cooler or warmer to the touch than the surrounding areas
- The skin is tender
- Pus-like draining
Untreated bedsores can lead to cellulitis, an infection of the skin and soft tissues, bone and joint infections, and even cancer. Many times, the real damage of a bedsore is not visible because it occurs under the skin.
Prevention of bed sores is one of the best ways to maintain a person’s health. Use cushions or mattresses which relieve pressure. A person in a wheelchair or who is bedbound should be repositioned frequently. Increase fluid intake to keep skin hydrated. The skin should be kept very clean. Use powder to prevent friction against the skin. Watch for wrinkles of fasteners on clothing which can irritate fragile skin. Inspect the skin every day for warning signs of a bedsore.
If your loved one in a nursing home is experiencing bedsores, it could be nursing home neglect. The staff may not be paying attention to the needs of your loved one. Keep in mind that many bedbound people develop bedsores due to other complications. If you believe your loved one is not being cared for properly, you may want to discuss your situation with an experienced attorney.