Elder Wound Care in Nursing Facilities

One of the most important tasks of nursing facilities is to properly care for any wounds patients develop while living in the nursing facilities. If wounds are not treated correctly, bacteria may spread and could even affect other patients within the facility.

Nursing homes and adult care facilities need to make sure their staff members are prepared to treat wounds in patients to avoid further complications. Bedsores are a common problem among nursing home patients. These sores are caused by elderly patients being in the same position for an extended period of time due to their inability to move on their own. Oftentimes, neglect on the part of the nursing facility staff causes bedsores that could have been prevented in the first place.

Common Wounds in Elderly Patients

Some of the most typical wounds that elderly patients experience in nursing facilities are:

  • Pressure ulcers or bedsores: These injuries break down the skin when it is under pressure for a prolonged amount of time. Bedsores disrupt the blood flow and keep oxygen from travelling to that area, causing cells to die. These ulcers are common in people with type 2 diabetes. Changing the patient’s position regularly can prevent pressure ulcers.
  • Diabetic foot ulcers: Caused by changes in the foot bones of diabetic patients. These foot lesions are very common among those suffering from diabetes. In the U.S., about 5% of diabetics develop foot ulcers, resulting in 1% of them having to get a toe amputated.
  • Amputation wounds: After an amputation, complications may occur. Proper wound care is necessary for an amputation procedure to heal properly and to avoid the wound becoming gangrenous.
  • Post-op wounds: Many nursing facility residents have to get surgery for one reason or another. Postoperative care following the surgical procedure must begin immediately after surgery and continue after discharge. Infection and blood clots are possible if proper post-op care is not performed.

Caring For Elder Wounds

The human body has its own mechanism to heal wounds naturally. Most of the time the use of medication, good hygiene, and proper care will be necessary to help the wounds heal.

Elderly patients’ bodies have an especially hard time at healing wounds due to possible preexisting health conditions such as diabetes. It is also common for elderly patients to experience fragile skin and slower cell regeneration which may delay the healing process of a wound.

The use of an antiseptic is common in nursing facilities wound care. Topical antiseptics are helpful for stopping bacteria growth and keeping moisture in the wound. Both of these processes aid in the healing stage.

Wound Care Neglect in Nursing Facilities

Nursing home facilities with a high staff-to-patient ratio may have difficulty handling wounds in patients properly due to the high demand of the patients and the limited staff. Negligence is commonplace, and wounds might be left to heal naturally without the necessary dosages of medication and bandage changes. Radiant bandages can be used to keep the wound warm when recommended by a doctor.

Nursing home patients should be moved from their positions regularly to avoid bedsores and increase blood circulation. After surgery, wounds must be treated as per the instructions of the doctor or trained medical professional. Also, after an amputation, wounds must be cleaned and bandages changed to avoid infection.

Wounds may take longer to heal in nursing home patients due to many factors including existing bacteria in the nursing home, the age of the patient, thin skin, slower natural healing processes, lack of proper nutrition, dehydration, and other diseases like diabetes. Infection is more prone to spreading in these types of settings.

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