Furr & Henshaw
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Bedsores are a potential warning sign of nursing home neglect

Not so long ago, some elderly patients couldn't avoid developing bedsores. Weight loss during aging would leave them particularly bony and susceptible to these developing bedsores. Thankfully, modern technology has made it much easier for nursing home aides and workers to provide adequate cushioning and relief to people who are immobilized.

Unfortunately, social perception has not caught up with this improvement and many people still assume that bedsores are a common and reasonable side effect of being bedridden. If you notice that your loved one has developed a bedsore while in a nursing home, that may be an early warning sign of neglect and inadequate care.

Bedsores are the result of lying in the same position

When someone no longer has the ability to lift or move themselves, they have increased risk for developing bedsores. These injuries are often due to body weight pressing down on one point for protracted periods of time.

That is why they are also called pressure ulcers. The pressure of someone's body weight bearing down on one part of the body, typically near a major bone, can damage the skin and the nearby tissue. Over time, bedsores can result in serious wounds and even deadly infections.

Bedsores are almost always preventable. Nursing home staff can rotate and move your loved one every few hours to relieve pressure on different parts of the body. Foam mattresses and extra pillows can also provide better cushioning and reduce the painful pressure bed-ridden patients experience.

Major bedsores, especially those that have progressed beyond the initial stage, may be a warning sign of serious neglect. If nursing home staff does not immediately respond to reports of bedsores on your loved one, it is time to take action.

Know the signs of bedsores, and check your loved one

In the early stages, bed sores simply look like red, inflamed areas. Over time, the skin will break and begin to weep. If left untreated, the injury will pass into the fatty tissue and muscle. In severe cases, the bone below the injury site may become visible through the wound.

People often develop bedsores or pressure ulcers at points where their bodies connect with the mattresses or chairs they spend their days in. Check for redness, bruising or other signs of irritation behind the knees, at the nape of the neck, on the buttocks and the back of the heels when you visit your loved one.

Report any sign of potential bedsores to the nursing home. You should also document every injury and report you make. That documentation can prove there is a history of neglect and that you have attempted to intervene. If the nursing home does not immediately take action to protect your loved one, you may need to take legal action.

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