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Be aware of the way pressure ulcers form

There are many risk factors of bedsores you should be familiar with if you have an elderly or aging loved one in a hospital or long-term care facility. Bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers or pressure sores, develop when there is prolonged pressure placed on the skin. For example, if your loved one sits in a wheelchair without moving for several hours, the pressure on the skin on the tailbone could result in bruising and ulcers from a lack of circulation.

The body is designed to always be in a state of motion. Even if you don't notice, you're constantly adjusting and moving, even if you're sitting relatively still. Not being able to do that means the skin and muscles never get a break from the pressure and the body's circulation is hindered.

Pressure sores can develop in as few as 12 hours. It's most common to see them on the heels, elbows, tailbone, shoulders, hips and other areas where pressure is likely and padding from muscle or fat are less.

When the area of skin is compressed between a bed or chair and the bone, it cuts off the area from oxygen and nutrients. That can quickly lead to bedsores, which are painful and potentially dangerous. There are four stages of bedsores, and the most severe have the potential to destroy bone, muscle, joints and tendons.

No one should develop bedsores in an active, well-maintained facility. Nursing staff should regularly adjust your loved one to prevent bedsores if he or she is unable to move on his or her own. If they don't do this, they could be accused of neglect.

Source: A Place for Mom, "BedsBedsores: Risk Factors & Prevention," Jeannette Franks, accessed Sep. 29, 2017

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