Are you researching Albuquerque-area nursing homes for a loved one, or maybe have a family member living in an area nursing home? If so, it’s time to arm yourself with some knowledge to help keep your elderly loved one safe and healthy.
Bedsores are one health concern to watch for. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one in ten nursing home residents currently suffers from bedsores, most often resulting from lack of attention from staff. It is also important to know that bedsores may be a sign of nursing home abuse.
What they are: Bedsores (also known as pressure ulcers and decubitus ulcers) are injuries to the underlying tissues and surface of the skin caused by pressure against the affected area limiting blood flow. Bedsores most commonly develop on or in the following areas:
- Tailbone, buttocks or hips
- Back or side of the head
- Behind the knees, back of legs or back of arms
- Shoulder blade or along the spine
- Shin, heels or ankles
Rate of development: The time varies but bedsores can develop in just a few hours or over the span of a few days.
Can bedsores be treated? It depends. Many bedsores are treatable but not all heal.
Why your loved one might be vulnerable: Bedsores are a result of limited movement that can lead to reduced blood flow in the areas of skin constantly in contact with a surface, such as a bed or a wheelchair. Your loved one might be vulnerable to developing bedsores if they:
- Spend most of their time in bed
- Spend most of their time in a chair or wheelchair
- Lack of sensory perception
- Suffer from incontinence
- Have a medical condition affecting blood flow
Are there different stages? Bedsores are classified by a few characteristics like depth and severity. The degree of damage can range from unbroken and red skin to deeper bedsore injuries of the muscle and bone.
Can they be fatal? Unfortunately, bedsores are a leading underlying cause of nursing home patient deaths. Bedsores in advancing stages can become life-threatening if left unattended due to bone or blood infection.
Nursing home protocol: The Federal Nursing Home Reform Act created a national standard of care for nursing home residents in 1987. Nursing home staff should move or rotate your loved one every two hours to reduce pressure on the affected area if a bedsore has developed.
Will filing a complaint be enough? If you find your loved one has developed one or more bedsores, it’s not likely a complaint will be enough to change the level of care provided.
Bedsores can be a sign of abuse: If you see a bedsore on your loved one, it’s best to find a nursing home abuse attorney to file a lawsuit or complaint.
Symptoms or warning signs to watch for:
- Tender areas
- Unusual skin texture or color changes
- Pus-like drainage
- An area of skin that feels hot or cold
Knowing what to look for in a nursing home is important for many reasons. By staying vigilant about your loved one’s state of health, you help ensure they remain safe and receive the respect and level of care they deserve and are entitled to.