Q I believe my mother may be developing a bedsore. She is eighty-eight years old and currently lives in a Board & Care after having suffered a stroke that resulted in her right side being completely paralyzed. She is unable to walk or sit-up in bed. Her body position is often is a stationary position for hours at a time.
About a week ago I noticed that she had some redness just above her buttocks. There are no doctors or nurses at this assisted living facility. She does have a nurse that comes to see her at the Board & Care once a week and is visited by her doctor once a month.
The redness seemed to be getting worse. When I asked the lead Board & Care attendant if the sore was something I should be concerned about, the response was that redness of this type is common in elderly people. But to me, the redness seemed to be getting worse. I spoke to a friend, who told me about bedsores and that it could be evidence of elder abuse. I also learned bedsores can get worse quickly and develop into a dangerous condition. Is this true?
A Yes. Bedsores can definitely get worse and therefore you must be diligent as your mother’s health advocate to inform her physician immediately to determine the current stage of the bedsore and its rate of progression.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, as many as 1 out of 10 residents in nursing homes currently suffer from bedsores. In most cases, bedsores are caused by a lack of attention and improper medical care.
A pressure sore is damage to the skin and underlying derma. It can begin with reddening and can appear pink in tone. It can then develop into severe tissue breakage and infection. Bedsores are serious health concerns and once identified they need to be treated immediately.
Patients like your mother, who have suffered a stroke and loss of sensation where the sore developed, do not always realize that something is wrong because the sensation of pain can no longer be felt.
Pressure Sores Are Medically Characterized In Four Stages:
Stage One: In this stage, the sore does not involve broken skin to the point where there is an open wound. However, the skin may be painful, but there are no breaks or tears of the skin. The skin looks red or pinkish and can be very itchy. Skin temperature can be slightly elevated to touch.
Stage Two: This is when the sore begins to break-open which is usually very painful. It can look like a blister. The sore expands into deeper layers of the derma. It can look like an abrasion, blister, or a shallow crater in the skin. Sometimes this stage looks like a blister filled with clear fluid. At this stage, the skin can be so damaged it’s unable to heal.
Stage Three: This is when the sore gets worse and extends into the tissue beneath the skin, sometimes forming a small crater. The wound may show puss but does not reveal muscle or bone.
Stage Four: This is a very dangerous level. The sore is deep and muscle, ligament, and bone are actually visible through the wound. There is usually a dark discoloration and blood surrounding the wound. This level of extensive damage is highly prone to infection and could develop into sepsis, which can be fatal if not treated aggressively by a wound care expert.
Unfortunately, your mother is of the age in which her skin is very thin, and since she has also suffered a stroke, her loss of sensation to feel pain places her at high risk of developing a bedsore.
Finally, the best advice is to take action immediately by contacting the doctor for an immediate examination. Those who work at assisted living facilities are not medically trained and are prohibited in most states from performing wound care.