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Are bedsores inevitable for those living in nursing homes?

When people talk about bedsores or pressure ulcers, they largely think about older adults living in nursing homes. Those confined to bed or living a particularly sedentary lifestyle are primarily the people at risk for developing bed sores. Older adults, especially those with dementia or who have gotten hurt by falling, may spend most of their days in the same place.

However, while limited mobility and pressure ulcers have a strong association, that does not mean that older adults will inevitably develop bedsores once they have limitations on their movement. Especially when they live in a nursing home facility with professionals monitoring their lives, they should have the proper support to prevent bed sores or treat them quickly when they develop.

How can nursing home staff prevent bedsores?

There are numerous tactics to help prevent older adults who are in bed or the same chair for most of the day from developing painful and potentially dangerous bedsores.

The first and arguably most important involves frequently moving or rotating the person’s body. By changing how they sit or recline on the bed, nursing home workers can change the parts of the body in during the most pressure and prevent sores from forming in the most common places, like under the shoulders, the buttocks, the back of the head and the heels.

Staff can also help by providing cushioning and by encouraging residents to move from their beds to their chairs and back several times a day. Finally, frequently talking to and physically inspecting each resident will be necessary to catch bedsores in the early stages. Proper cleaning and treatment in the earliest stages will prevent most bedsores from becoming worse and minimize the risk of infection or severe tissue damage.

Why do nursing homes have bedsore issues?

There are some people with unusual physical characteristics that put them at extremely elevated risk for bedsores. However, most older adults can avoid bedsores with the right support.

The problem is that nursing homes often have far too few staff members on hand to give the kind of preventative care necessary to keep residents completely free from bedsores. Recognizing bedsores and similar preventable health issues as signs of nursing home neglect will make you a better advocate for your aging loved one.