One of the more obvious warning signs of elder abuse or neglect is the presence of bed sores.
Bed sores, also known as pressure sores, are skin ulcers that can sometimes go down to the bone. They can be horribly painful and, once established, difficult to treat and cure.
They are caused by the prolonged pressure of a person’s body contact with a surface, most commonly due to immobility. The pressure cuts off blood supply to the tissue and a wound forms. Bed sores are graded by stage of severity.
Stage 1: At the mildest stage, when pressure sores begin to form they only affect the top layer of skin. The individual may experience itching, burning, pain and/or redness at the site. Stage 1 sores can be healed easily once further pressure on the area is prevented.
Stage 2: A bed sore at this stage goes deeper than the superficial layer of skin and is a full-fledged wound. There is often blood or pus in blisters, and it is painful. They can take up to 3 weeks to heal, but only if treated frequently and properly.
Stage 3: A stage 3 bed sore is serious, as the wound has gone deep enough to affect fat tissue below the skin layers. The sore may look like a hole or crater, and can smell bad. Infection at this stage is common. Skin around the sore may become black if it has died without blood flow. Minor surgery may be needed to remove the dead tissue, and antibiotics are often prescribed to combat the infection. At this point it is crucial that the area not experience additional pressure.
Stage 4: At their worst, bed sores can affect your muscles or ligaments, which, if deep enough, can be exposed. Once bed sores reach this stage, they are often fatal. Immediate surgery, additional preventative care measures, and antibiotics/special cleaning are necessary.
This type of injury is, more often than not, a result of inadequate cleaning or attention. Nursing home staff and home aides should be frequently adjusting, and properly bathing, a bedridden patient to prevent bed sores from occurring. The statutes and regulations that govern nursing home care require plans of care for every patient, and those of immobile individuals will include specific measures for bed sore prevention. When bed sores form on their patients, it indicates issues of understaffing or negligence.
Have you found bed sores on your loved one? If so, contact us for a FREE consultation.
Check our website regularly as we delve more into the individual warning signs of elder abuse over the next few weeks.