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Prevention of Pressure Ulcers

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There are an estimated 2 million elderly people living in nursing homes. They are there for various reasons and suffer from a range of conditions. Many of these nursing home residents are prone to skin breakdowns also called pressure sores/ bed sores. Continuous pressure on bony areas of the body may damage or destroy the epidermis and the dermis of the skin and a bed sore may develop. Pressure sores can range from a stage 1(superficial, redness of skin) to stage 4 (deep in dermis, nerve destruction). Nursing home residents that are at risk to develop a bed sore are those that are bed-ridden, wheel-chair bound and diabetic. If proper care is taken, these residents’ chances of developing a bed sore are very low. Nursing staff can help reduce bed sores by repositioning, use of barrier cream, and making sure residents are consuming a nutritional meal.

It is important that residents that are bed ridden and wheel chair bound be repositioned. These residents are at the highest risk of developing bed sores on their head, shoulder, hips, heels, and etc. Laying in a position to long adds extreme pressure to the area first causing soreness and redness. Repositioning a resident that is wheel chair bound is also important. These residents are at risk of developing sores on the tail bone. It is a good practice to reposition a patient every two hours and not to allow residents to sit in wheelchairs longer than 2 hours. A stage 1 can develop in as little as 15 minutes, so it is important that staff reposition residents.

The use of barrier cream is also very important in preventing a bed sores in elderly nursing home residents. Many of the residents suffer from incontinence. If a resident is lying in a soiled diaper for long periods, the moisture will begin breaking down their skin and causing a bed sore. When skin protectant creams such as Destin, Butt Paste and A&D are applied they lessen the chances of a resident developing a bedsore. These creams act as a barrier between the skin and the soiled diaper and should be used every time a soiled brief is removed and the skin is cleansed. The use of barrier
cream goes a long way in the prevention of pressure ulcers.

Nutrition plays a major role in the prevention of skin breakdown. Residents should consume a balanced meal that includes fresh vegetables, fruits, and protein. Fruits such as oranges helps repair and strengthen the body because they are high in Vitamin C which is essential in immunity and healing. The consumption of protein also plays a significant role in avoiding bed sores. Protein helps in preventing bed sores by helping in the construction of the muscle. Patients should consume a high protein diet containing foods such as eggs, chicken, turkey and some nuts. Nursing staff should also keep in mind the importance of resident’s drinking water. Water keeps the skin hydrated and elastic and reduces the risk of a bed sore from friction. A dehydrated resident is more likely to develop a bedsore than a resident who is consuming an adequate amount of water. Residents should consume half of their body weight in ounces. So if a resident is 200lbs, that patient should consume hundred ounces of water or twelve to thirteen glasses of water per day.

Nursing home residents that are repositioned, have barrier creamed applied and eat a balanced diet are significantly less likely to develop a bed sore. Bed sores can be prevented with proper attention and help from nursing staff.

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