Bedsores and Pressure Sores

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Bedsores can develop rapidly and be deadly. They are many times difficult to detect.

In some cases, a caregiver may let an elderly person under his or her care lie in bed all of the time, not changing the sheets, or the person’s clothes often enough.  Combined with neglect of the elder’s personal hygiene, this is likely to cause bedsores.  Bedsores are caused by prolonged pressure on a particular area of skin, damaging the skin and the tissue underneath.  According to the Mayo Clinic, bedsores are most likely to occur in bony areas of the body, such as elbows or hips, and generally occur in people in wheelchairs or on prolonged bed rest.  There are four stages of bedsore, each of which looks different.

Stage I

At first, a pressure sore will appear as an area of skin that is red and it could possibly itch. This area may also feel firm or warm and spongy to the touch. People with darker skin may have an area with a purple or blue hue, rather than the aforementioned red. It could also look ashen or flaky. Stage I bedsores will heal once the pressure has been relieved.

Stage II

Some skin loss has occurred at this point. This loss can be in the epidermis, which is the outer layer of skin or in the dermis, which is the deeper layer of skin, or in both of these layers. The wound has become a sore that resembles an abrasion or blister. The tissues surrounding it may have a purple or red discoloration. If this bedsore is treated promptly, these sores can generally heal rather quickly.

Stage III

Once the bedsore has reached this stage, all the layers of skin have been affected down to the muscle. This process has now damaged or destroyed these tissues. The wound that has been created is a deep wound resembling a crater.

Stage IV

This is the most advanced and serious stage. Damage has now been done to the bone, muscle and the joints and tendons, which are the supporting structures. Large amounts of skin have been destroyed and these wounds are very difficult to cure. At this stage, they can cause lethal infections.

On occasion, a bedsore will be categorized as ‘unstageable.’ These are generally extremely advanced wounds involving muscle, skin and bone.

While bedsores may not seem like a serious injury, a Stage IV bedsore is in fact a significant wound which requires medical attention.  Furthermore, checking for bedsores should be a routine function for a caregiver of an elder who needs significant bed rest, or is in a wheelchair; their presence may indicate a significant level of neglect.  The places where bedsores will most likely occur in people on bed rest are the back of the head and ears, shoulder blades, tailbone and hips, back of the knees, ankles and heels.  For those in wheelchairs, bedsores are most likely to appear on the shoulder blades, spine, tailbone, or backs of the arms or legs.

If your elder loved one seems to have a number of bedsores, it is time to look into whether he or she is getting adequate care.  An experienced Colorado Elder Neglect Lawyer can help you find the resources you need to look into your family member’s health, and make sure that you understand your rights, and the rights of your family.  Rhett Meyer is dedicated to helping Colorado’s elders continue to live happy, healthy, peaceful lives as they enter their twilight years.  For more information and a free consultation, contact Rhett at (303)444-1618.