3 Ways You Can Help Prevent Pressure Sores In Your Elderly Loved One

If you have an elderly loved one who resides in an assisted living facility, you may not be able to visit everyday to check on his or her condition, however, there are things you can do to help reduce the resident's risk for developing pressure sores when you do visit. Here are three things you can do to help ensure that your loved one's skin condition stays healthy:

Encourage Position Changes

If the assisted living resident does not have cognitive deficits, frequent reminders to change position while awake in bed or sitting in a chair will help ensure that pressure is not placed on a bony prominence for long periods of time.

Pressure sores can develop when undue pressure is placed over areas such as hips, the sacrum, ankles, heels, elbows, or buttocks for long stretches at a time . When the elderly person changes position every couple of hours or so, it is less likely that circulation will become impaired to any of the aforementioned areas and less likely that the skin will become red, excoriated or damaged in any way. 

Provide High Protein Snacks

Snacks rich in protein, such as nuts or oatmeal bars, can help maintain skin integrity in the senior assisted living resident. Protein helps keep bone, muscle, cartilage, and skin healthy and strong so that they remain resistant against damage and wear and tear.

Before stocking your loved one's room with high-protein items, check with the primary care physician to make sure the person is not on a protein restricted diet. People with certain medical conditions, such as renal disease, may need to limit their protein intake in order to keep their kidneys functioning at an optimal level. If the individual does not like nuts or oatmeal bars, or if gastrointestinal disorders are an issue, commercially prepared high-protein shakes are a good substitute. 

Gentle Massage

Every time you visit your loved one in the assisted living facility, offer a gentle massage because this improves circulation and brings blood flow to the surface of the skin. Pressure sores are less likely to develop in areas with adequate circulation, and while you may not be available to provide a massage on a daily basis, even an occasional massages can provide benefits.

Not only does a massage help maintain skin integrity and good circulation, it can also help relieve stress, improve sleep, and enhance appetite. Remind the resident to massage areas of the body that are susceptible to pressures sores such as the hips, heels, and ankles frequently to further maintain skin health. 

If your loved one develops pressure ulcers despite the above interventions, talk to the nursing supervisor at the assisted living facility to learn more about what you can do to help prevent further skin breakdown.  When you work with the staff on pressure ulcer issues, your loved one is more likely to enjoy healthy, intact skin.