The skin, the largest organ of the body, ages just as our other organs age. Wrinkles may be an obvious sign of this aging, but treating older skin properly is not merely a cosmetic issue. Normal aspects of aging, such as thinning skin, a weakened immune system, and decreased circulation can leave seniors vulnerable to skin infections and nonhealing wounds.
In addition to dealing with the normal aging of their skin, older people are more likely to have conditions that endanger the skin. Diabetes, which affects 25% of seniors, can lead to nonhealing foot sores, which are the leading cause of lower leg amputation in the US. Hypothyroidism, another condition common in seniors, also leads to increased skin fragility. If a senior is bedridden, skin issues are exacerbated, and the resultant bed sores can become dangerous as well as painful.
All these factors make wound care an essential part of caring for the elderly.
The following 6 issues can prevent wounds from healing:
A senior who is bedridden — or simply unwilling or unable to move around — and therefore remains sedentary most of the time, opens themselves up to bed sores, which can be caused by constant pressure or friction. Bed sores are not only difficult to treat, they can become infected, leading to more serious complications.
2. Inadequate Diet
Protein, vitamin C, and zinc promote the healing of wounds. A diet that lacks these essential nutrients can prevent wounds from healing properly.
The presence of necrotic tissue — dead skin — around the wound interferes with the body’s ability to heal the wound.
An open wound is a breeding ground for bacterial infection. If infection does occur, the immune system prioritizes fighting the infection over healing the wound.
In order to heal, a wound needs a specific level of moisture. Either too much or too little moisture will impair the healing process. Proper wound care requires constant monitoring of the wound, as well as frequent changes of dressings and bandages.
At Atlantic Coast Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Lakewood, NJ, we understand the seriousness of wound care for our residents, and take a multidisciplinary approach to protecting elderly skin. Our physicians are specially trained in wound management. Our nursing staff is trained in the care of chronic wounds, which includes choosing the appropriate type of dressing, changing dressings on a regular schedule, and reporting any change in the wound to the physician in charge. Our nutritionists and dieticians assure optimal nutrition and hydration for wound healing.
Or better yet, come see for yourself: Contact us to schedule a tour by calling 732-364-7100, or by clicking here.