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Bedsores: Are You At Risk?

Risk Factors for Developing BedsoresThe incidence of bedsores (or pressure sores or decubitus ulcers) is shockingly common in many nursing homes, hospital and assisted living facilities.  Determining who may be at risk for developing this potentially devastating condition is important to preventing the development of them in the first place.  If a family member has one or more of the conditions below they are at an increased risk for development of bedsores.  A daily monitoring of their condition should be done as the first step of prevention.

The following are risk factors identified by The Mayo Clinic:

Age: If you are over 70, you are at an increased risk for development of bedsores.  Older adults tend to have thinner skin than younger people do, making them more susceptible to damage from minor pressure. They’re also more likely to be underweight, with less natural cushioning over their bones. And poor nutrition, a serious problem among older adults, not only affects the integrity of the skin and blood vessels but also hinders wound healing. Even with optimum nutrition and good overall health, wounds tend to heal more slowly as you age, simply because the repair rate of your cells declines.

Living In A Nursing Home:  In general, nursing home residents have higher rates of bedsores than do people who are hospitalized or cared for at home, in part because nursing home residents may be especially frail. On the other hand, rates are even higher for hospitalized patients who are immobilized, such as people who are recovering from a hip fracture or who are in a coma.

Lack of pain perception. Loss of sensation is usually due to spinal cord injuries or disease. An inability to feel pain means you’re not aware when you’re uncomfortable and need to change your position or that a bedsore is forming.

You Are Skinny:  You often lose weight when you’re sick or hospitalized, and muscle atrophy and wasting are common in people living with paralysis. In either case, you lose fat and muscle that help cushion your bones. Some experts say the best way to prevent skin breakdown is to have at least 2 inches of muscle over bony areas.


Malnutrition : You’re more likely to develop pressure sores if you have a poor diet, especially one deficient in protein, zinc and vitamin C. You’re also more likely to have recurrent pressure sores, more severe infections and slower healing wounds than are people with healthier diets.

Urinary or fecal incontinence: Problems with bladder control can greatly increase your risk of pressure sores because your skin stays moist, making it more likely to break down. And bacteria from fecal matter not only can cause serious local infections but also lead to life-threatening systemic complications such as sepsis, gangrene and, rarely, necrotizing fasciitis, a severe and rapidly spreading infection.

Diabetes: Because certain health problems such as diabetes and vascular disease affect circulation, parts of your body may not receive adequate blood flow, increasing your risk of tissue damage. And if you have muscle spasms (spastic paralysis) or contracted joints, you’re subject to repeated trauma from friction and shear forces.

Smoking Smokers have a higher incidence of pressure sores than nonsmokers do. They also tend to develop more severe wounds and to heal more slowly, mainly because nicotine impairs circulation and reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood. The risk increases with the number of years and cigarettes smoked.

Aside from living in a nursing home, many nursing home residents also have a number of other risk factors for developing bedsores.  There for the nursing home staff needs to monitor all residents on a daily basis to prevent bedsore development.  Further, identification of a bedsore at an early state is crucial to its treatment.


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