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Preventing Pressure Sores

Are you caring for a senior who is confined to a bed or wheelchair? If so, preventing pressure sores is probably a big issue.

Here are a few useful tips in preventing these sores.
The information listed below is not to be used as a substitute for qualified medical advice. Please contact your physician for proper medical advice, treatment, and prevention.

The main things to consider when preventing pressure sores is to "Change positions frequently: This will help to eliminate pressure in one particular area; and "Keep skin dry": This will avoid the added risk of deterioration.

Bed-Bound Seniors

  • Breakdowns of the skin commonly occur on the backside and heels (feet).
  • It is ideal for bed-bound patients to have their positions changed at least every two hours.
  • If the individual is confined to a bed, the use of a drawsheet is helpful in assisting with position changes.
  • There are many medical items available for positioning, but some find that even a basic pillow can be used to prop the individual from side to side or to keep the heels from touching the mattress.
  • Foot pillows are also helpful in preventing pressure sores on the feet.
  • Various types of special gel and air mattresses are available; however, they can be very costly. Under special circumstances, Medicare will cover the cost of these mattresses. Contact your physician for further details.

Wheelchair-Bound Seniors
  • Breakdowns of the skin commonly occur on the backside.
  • Various types of gel cushions are available for wheelchairs at reasonable prices. These cushions assist in preventing sores on the bottom, but do not eliminate the need for changing positions if confined to a wheelchair for long periods. Gel cushions are sometimes available through Medicare. Please contact your physician for further details.
  • Air cushions for wheelchairs are available, however they are extremely costly (about $1,500 each). Medicare can sometimes cover the cost for these items under very special circumstances. Contact your physician for further details.
  • If the individual is confined to a wheelchair for long periods, a simple pillow or cushion can be used to prop them from side to side. Be sure to alternate sides frequently (a minimum of every hour or so).

Knowing What to Look For

One of the earliest "visible signs" that a pressure sore is beginning is a slight skin discoloration. The afflicted area becomes pinkish, reddish, or darker in color. If you press your finger on the area in question and release it, normal, healthy skin should turn back to its natural color temporarily. This means that blood is flowing freely to the area. However, if you press on the skin with your finger and the color stays pink or shows no sign of changing color, then it could be the sign of a pressure sore in its earliest stage.

If there is any sign of a pressure sore present, contact your physician for medical advice and/or treatment.

This information contained on this web site, including linked sites, is not intended to be used as a substitute for obtaining qualified medical advice or seeking treatment from a physician. Visitors to this web site should not rely on the information contained on Elder Depot's web site for their particular condition or as a substitute for receiving qualified medical advice

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