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How serious are bedsores?


Elderly nursing home residents are at risk for serious injuries and deadly conditions. Depending on the care and attention of the nursing home staff, residents might suffer from malnutrition, dehydration or bedsores – conditions that are preventable by an attentive staff.

Bedsores are pressure sores (also called decubitus ulcers) that can damage the skin and underlying tissue. If left untreated, these pressure ulcers can become infected, damaging the bone. Additionally, the underlying damage might be severe enough as to result in amputation.

The skin damage is likely to occur due to a nursing home resident’s lack of mobility. Whether they are sitting in a wheelchair for several hours at a time, or lying bedridden, bedsores are likely to appear on the hips, buttocks, shoulder blades, lower back and backs of the knees.

What are common risk factors?

In general, bedsores are caused by significant, sustained pressure on body parts. Immobility – and lack of attention by the nursing home staff – is the biggest single contributor, but there are other factors that can impact a resident’s wellbeing, including:

  • Dehydration and malnutrition: Without the proper nutrition and the appropriate fluids, the body can become susceptible to damage.
  • Problems in sensory perception: Spinal cord damage or neurological disorders might dull pain receptors. The inability to feel pain or discomfort might cause the nursing home resident to fail to recognize warning signs of skin problems.
  • Poor blood flow: Diabetes and other vascular diseases can impact the blood flow to various body parts increasing the risk of tissue damage.
  • Incontinence: Nursing home residents might need the staff’s help to ensure they are cleaned properly. When the skin remains in contact with urine or stool for long periods of time, the tissue becomes vulnerable.

An attentive nursing home staff can help prevent these devastating skin issues by repositioning residents regularly and paying careful attention to health issues. By ensuring proper nutrition and hydration, an elderly nursing home resident can avoid bedsores and other tissue damage.