It can be a very difficult time watching your elderly loved one going through the pain that is caused by pressure ulcers. The reason why they are immobile in the first place is likely to be the consequence of a serious medical condition. You will want to do everything that you can to ease their discomfort and alleviate the pain as much as possible. You will also want to find out as much information as possible about the condition so that you are fully equipped to best handle their care.
So, what are immobility pressure ulcers and what can you do to help ease the sufferers pressure and pain?
Immobility in the elderly is often a result of medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, chronic rheumatoid arthritis, or following hip surgery. This immobility can lead to the sufferer being bed-ridden for extensive periods of time. One of the major side effects of bed-ridden immobility are the appearance of pressure ulcers, commonly known as bed sores, which can be extremely painful and, if left untreated, these ulcers can cause lasting tissue damage or become seriously infected.
Typically, pressure ulcers tend to appear on the skin that surrounds the sacrum, which is the triangular bone at the base of the lower back. The severity of pressure ulcers is dependent on the sufferer’s general health before and during their period of immobility.
Assessments carried out by health professionals will examine some of the following patient health factors to determine their predisposition to pressure ulcers: nutrition levels, blood supply and their neurological state e.g. whether they are fully conscious. These are just a few examples from an extensive list of factors.
If you are caring for an elderly relative, you can do some research online on sites like health.com for information on nutrition and the best foods to quickly boost nutrition levels.
There is a four grade classification system which is used by medical practitioners to rate the severity of the pressure ulcers, with grade 1 as the least severe (discolouration and hardness of the skin is apparent at the potential ulcer site), leading up to grade 4 which is described as extensive tissue, muscle and bone damage that can take an extremely long time to heal and may even lead to life threatening infection.
It is essential that pressure ulcers are treated in a timely manner to prevent infection and that the ulcer site is kept clean at all times to help speed up the healing process. In nursing homes staff will be trained in how to promote healing of pressure ulcers and residents who have mobility restrictions will be lying in a specially designed bed on a mattress that’s suitable for long-term immobility use.
For the elderly who are residing in their own homes or living with family, the type of bed, and in particular the mattress is of key importance and will help to reduce the occurrence of pressure ulcers, reduce pain and bring much needed comfort.
There are mattresses available to buy, like the Oska CuroCell Cirrus Mattress, that are designed specifically to relieve pressure and in turn reduce the occurrence of pressure ulcers, including grade 4. Visit acutehealthcare.com.au/products/active-mattresses/curocell-cirrus for more information.