Pressure Sores & Aging Seniors: Enjoy an Infection-Free Life
As we grow older, our skin becomes thinner, more dry and less elastic. This makes aging skin more susceptible to physical injury from pressure, friction or shear on the body.
When pressure is applied to an area of the body continuously for anytime from 30 - 60 minutes, it reduces blood circulation to that part. This causes a gradual slowing down of the skin cells in that area. If the pressure is not removed, these cells eventually wear down and die.
This process leads to a breakdown of the skin structure, forming sores. These sores, if unchecked, can become infected and start a series of deadly, unwanted events.
The sores are called pressure sores, decubitous sores or bed sores.
Aging seniors happen to be among the highly 'at risk' category for pressure sores.
A lot of factors add together to make older seniors more at risk to pressure sores. These include poor nutrition, anaemia, recurrent infection and poor circulation.
To better protect our elderly, aging seniors from the devastating effects of pressure sores, it is quite important to understand the following:
How the Aging Process Places the Elderly at High Risk of Pressure Sores
1. Changes to the Skin - Aging skin becomes thinner and weaker, with less fat and muscle which helps absorb pressure. This increases the fragility of the skin.
2. Chronic Conditions - The elderly are more prone to diabetes, vascular diseases and other medical conditions. These prevent areas of the body from receiving proper blood flow. With reduced blood flow, pressure sores will form more quickly at the slightest pressure.
3. Poor Mobility - The older persons' inability to move certain parts of the body without assistance - probably as a result of neuromuscular disorders such as multiple sclerosis - is another factor to consider. As we grow older, we also tend to sleep a lot more. Excessive sleepiness causes older people to change positions less often.
4. Malnourishment - Older people usually eat less and less. And sometimes totally forget to eat! This means that they are missing out on those important nutrients that come from a wide food selection.
5. Reduced Blood Circulatory Functions - As we get older our circulation becomes less efficient. This negatively affects blood supply, carrying all the essential nourishing and healing nutrients to the body cells.
6. Older Age Urinary Incontinence or Bowel Incontinence - Wetness is another major cause of pressure sore. As incontinence increases with advancing age, and the elderly stays soiled for long, irritations and pressure sores are bound to develop on the skin area. Urinary and Bowel Incontinence care and protection should be observed here.
7. Reduced Awareness - Forgetfullness is another condition that comes with age. Especially when it is as a result of a disorder such as dementia. It causes a reduced awareness of what is happening in and around the affected elderly, including their own pain and discomfort.
To protect the elderly from pressure sores, you need to pay close attention to prevention - now more than ever before. From all we have noted earlier on, there are so many factors that puts our elderly at risk.
Keep the skin clean, dry and well moisturized. Encourage them to eat more. And to take their medications on time.
And most important of all, give that warm personal touch - A good massage from time to time.