Preventing bed sores as a caregiver is one off the largest challenges that you can face-period. .
We learned the hard way through trial and error.
There is a lot of similarity in the preventive measures of some websites, but what we will list is what we found that actually worked for us.
When we first took in my wife’s mother, she was using a walker and a wheelchair, so this topic was not on any of our priority issues.
However, as the years passed and she went strictly to the wheel chair and we had to start lifting and placing her in a lift chair, we very quickly learned all about them.
Preventing bed sores, also referred to as pressure sores, begins like it did for us, in understanding what they are.
The first thing we learned is how quickly they can develop.
They are injuries that affect the skin and its underlying tissues as the result of pressure on these areas over long periods of time.
What we learned was happening is the flow of blood to the affected areas has been slowed or stopped, putting these areas at risk of infections that can become quit severe.
If these areas are not receiving both oxygen and key nutrients, the skin and the tissues become compromised and then damaged.
The areas that we had the most issues with include the following.
However, we also learned that in preventing bed sores that friction, as well as what we were told was “shear”, could also cause them.
It was described to us that friction in some cases can be just as damaging, as it is a natural resistance to any type of motion.
When we went to move my wife’s mother by dragging her or pulling her across the sheets, this friction was one of the major causes and we did not realize it.
“Shear” is when two objects begin to move in the opposite direction.
For example, we had her in an elevated bed. What we did not realize was that when we moved her, the skin on her back and tailbone basically got stuck.
Once this occurs, it can do as much or more damage than prolonged pressure.
We also learned in this process, that they come in four stages.
If you are a caregiver, you need to do whatever you can to prevent stages 3 and 4
Here are the stages
The first step in preventing bed sores is obviously not letting them happen, however, if they do, understanding these stages is critical.
In the first stage, the pressure begins to damage the skin and the sore forms.
It becomes painful, and will be a different color, almost like a pimple or zit, but more like a boil in size.
However, much like a forming boil if you have ever had one, they may not yet be red in color.
In stage two, they break open much like a boil when it ruptures, and form an “ulcer”. At this point it is very painful, as it is expanding deeper into the skin and causing more damage.
The best way to describe it at this point would be like a blister. However, again like a boil, there will be “fatty type” appearances to it as the skin may now be beyond repair.
In stage four, it has now gone so deep that it is beginning to damage tissue, joints, and tendons for one simple reason; there is no more skin to damage.
If it does reach stage four, serious damage is no longer a possibility, it has become a very real and dangerous threat.
Stage four can and often does lead to osteomyelitis as well as sepsis. Osteomyelitis is serious bone infection and sepsis in a blood infection that can easily become life threatening.
There is one glaring fact that we learned about this condition very quickly; it is much easier preventing bed sores than treating them.
Here are the steps that we learned in this process and once we followed them, we had no more real issues.
The first involves the wheelchair and lift chair
My wife would set a timer during the day for every 30 minutes. We would then shift her weight or have her do it, which is ever better.
My wife’s mother got to the point, even if she was “dozing off”, that when she heard the timer she would shift as well as place her arms and then she lifted herself slightly.
Getting a good cushion is critical.
DO NOT get a foam cushion—they are useless. We got a new type of cushion called a “urethane honeycomb cushion.”
They are made of several individual cells just like a beehive, and as a result, it balances and distributes the weight much more effectively.
They are a bit pricing but nowhere near the price of treating this threat.
The final step in preventing bedsores is with the bed.
You can spend thousands of dollars on several types of specialty beds or do a couple of simple things like we did.
To avoid the “friction” and the “shear” damage we did these simple steps—it will control them very easily and make moving them much easier on you.
This accomplishes two key factors; the sheep skin works great at slowing or stopping them from ever forming, and it makes it much easier to move them.
When you position them in the center, you simply pull the sheep skin bed pad and all of the “friction” and “shear” is gone.
They have been moved, your back is still in place, and life is good.
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