What is a pressure sore?
A pressure sore is an area of skin that becomes damaged over time when the blood supply to a particular part of the body is reduced or cut off. This can be caused by sitting or lying in the same position for too long. If you notice any red patches anywhere on the skin that do not disapear after a few hours, this may be a pressure sore and should not be ignored. If you think you have found pressure sores, contact your GP surgery as soon as possible and seek advice. As people age their skin becomes fragile. Quite moderate friction on the skin can over time cause pressure sores. When helping the person to move be careful not to drag them across the bed or chair. Also make sure there are no rough seams in their clothes or anything in their pockets that could rub. Check their bedding is smooth.
Some people with dementia have difficulty walking or movement difficulties. Its important to take special care so that they don`t develop pressure sores, especialy if they are oldely. Seriously physically or mentally impaired people tend to develop pressure sores, they may not be able to say if an area of their skin is uncomfortable and so it is important that those caring for them are aware of the possibility of pressure sores and act quickly if they spot them. If you help a person with dementia to wash or dress or if they are in discomfort be aware of the possibility of pressure sores and have a look at the skin. Areas you should look at are: Heels, buttocks elbows, shoulder blades and the back of the head. When people are in bed, they normally move around – even when they’re sleeping.
However in the later stages of dementia, people often lose their motivation and can develop physical disabilities, so they may not move for long periods. This lack of movement can lead to pressure sores. Try to make sure the person doesn’t stay in one position for too long. Most people shift around naturally when they are sitting down. But in the later stages of dementia, people are more likely to stay in one position for an extended time. This can lead to pressure sores. Encourage the person to rock from side to side or to change their position in the chair now and then while they’re sitting. Help them stand up and walk around at least every couple of hours. Make sure you avoid friction on the person’s skin.
Pressure sores can be easy to treat early on, however if they are left untreated they do get worse and can be very painful. There is plenty that can be done to prevent them developing in the first place. Eating a good balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Good nutrition maks the skin healthier and more resistant to sores. Exercise improves the circulation and helps relieve any pressure that had built up. Consult a physiotherapist for advice on suitable exercise you can get referral from the GP. If they have problems with continent make sure they don`t stay in wet clothes or a wet bed, contact with urine for any length of time can be very sore. Too much heat and moisture can commit a pressure sore, aviod close-fitting clothes are tight bedding especially over the feet. Make sure the person is completely dry after a bath or a wash particularly in the skin folds, pat them dry do not rub.Encourage the person to move their position whenever they are lying or sitting for any length of time.
The district nurse may suggest that you remove the cause of the friction and help the person to move around. There are aids to protect the body these are pressure-relieving pads, special cushions and mattresses that can help prevent pressure sores developing. Pressure sors that have become infected are painful, and can make the person ill. If the skin is broken, the district nurse will need to investigate further and ensure that the most appropriate treatment is given.