When you place a loved one with limited mobility into a nursing home, you expect that they will receive the care they need to stay moving. You want them to go through physical therapy and to receive support moving throughout the day, because you know that lying in one position for hours isn’t comfortable.
Though your loved one can move around a little, you’ve found that their mobility is not good enough to allow them to sit up on their own or to roll over. As a result, they need to be able to get immediate support to move when they need to.
You chose a nursing home that seemed to have a low patient-to-staff ratio, so that you knew that your loved one would have a greater access to care. That’s why you were shocked to find out they had a badly infected bedsore. The hospital called you after your loved one had been admitted for a high fever.
Bedsores are a real problem for those who cannot move on their own, because the body places pressure on the same spot for a long time. This can limit circulation and result in an ulcer forming. Bedsores don’t just happen in bed. They can happen in a wheelchair, while sitting in any kind of chair for a long period of time or while otherwise immobile. Poor nutrition, circulation problems and diabetes increase the risk of bedsores.
How quickly do bedsores develop?
Bedsores generally begin to develop within two to three hours of having the area cut off from circulation. So, if your loved one does not move from the same position for that long, the pressure on a joint or area of the skin may start to cause a bedsore.
At first, the area will look red and be painful. However, after going without treatment, it will turn purple, break open and can become infected.
Bedsores can become deep enough to extend into muscle and bone. Healing is often slow, which is why nursing home staff members should know to help those who are immobile move regularly. Even a slight movement is enough to help prevent bedsores.
Treating a bedsore is possible, but it’s definitely easier during earlier stages of the injury. Taking pressure off the area is essential. If there is an infection, medications or surgery might need to be used to treat the wound. The sore will have to be monitored closely as it heals.