When discussing wound care rehab for seniors we need to look at it from several angles.
Firstly, what caused the wound?
Secondly, if the wound was caused by a disease, is the disease being taken care of effectively?
Thirdly, what can we do to prevent similar wounds in the future?
Causes of Wounds in Seniors
Wounds in seniors come about from several different sources. Once the skin’s natural seal is broken, infection can take over the area of the wound and even the flesh beneath the skin.
If a wound is small, the treatment is fairly simple. The wound is cleaned and dressed to promote healing.
But, if the wound does not repair quickly, it can become a chronic wound. Far more care and even rehab are needed for wounds with chronic infection. Special care is needed for issues that slow down the healing of a wound.
Wound care rehab for seniors is commonly needed for conditions that cause chronic wounds. Some of these are:
- Peripheral vascular disease
- Pressure ulcers due to immobility
- Faulty venous valves causing venous ulcers
- Chronic, severe edema and swelling
Care for a Senior with Wound-Causing Disease/Condition
Wounds require focused attention whether a senior is being cared for at home or in a residential facility. As long as there are wounds, the wounds must be cleaned and treated frequently.
Dr. Steve Gist et al set forth different types of ulcers and the options for dressings available. The paper also discusses the 4 stages of healing in a wound.
Each wound goes through the following stages of healing:
Why is there a problem with healing wounds in seniors?
One answer is that in seniors there are natural factors which slow down healing, such as the skin being thinner and less elastic.
Seniors who want to optimize the healing process need to carry out basic functions properly. These are eating and sleeping well, exercising, and carrying out self-care.
What often happens with seniors, is that the healing process stalls at the stage of inflammation.
To avoid that, whoever is caring for the wound has to focus on:
- Cleaning the wound of debris – debridement of wound.
- Treating the infection – no bacteria allowed there.
- Balancing amount of moisture – wetting dry wounds, drying wet wounds.
- Apply the correct dressings – choose from the variety available.
What to Do to Prevent Wounds in the Future?
All the quotes about the value of prevention are very true! Really the best way to deal with a wound, is not to have it at all.
Therefore, it is intelligent to take sensible precautions to prevent further wounds occurring.
The delicate skin of seniors is characterized by being thinner and drier, with less protective fat. For this reason, tears in senior skin can occur with ease. This is the case even when a senior is healthy and does not suffer from any chronic disease.
Here are some tips from Very Well Health on preventing skin tears in seniors.
Notice that these are simple tips and quite basic to senior safety.
Keep skin moist and nourished.
Use moisturizers on all parts of the body. You don’t need to invest in an expensive moisturizer. There are Vaseline based products and other simple creams that can work well. It is important to keep senior skin nourished. This gives the skin strength to fight back against infection. Remember, we said the best cure for skin ulcers is not to have them.
When enjoying the sunshine, apply sunscreen, even if indoors, since the sun’s rays go through glass windows.
Safe environment, safe senior.
Do all you can to prevent bumps and scratches. Clearing clutter and obstacles is a good start. Make sure that wires for the phone or chargers are not at trip level. Place padding on furniture with sharp edges. Check that bed sheets are soft to the touch. Avoid abrasive fabrics.
When you think protective, think clothing.
Keep dressed and covered. Use long-sleeved tops and long trousers or skirts. Wear soft and comfortable clothing. Take care when fastening zippers and hooks. Avoid clothes with sharp ornaments. When going out in the sun, cover up with clothing and other protective gear.
Don’t delay in responding to a tear.
If a senior gets a cut or skin tear make sure to treat it right away. Stop the bleeding, then clean the wound with water or saline. Exposure to air is good for helping skin to heal.
If you see signs of infection, get medical advice promptly.
Wound care rehab for seniors is usually for the more serious wounds and ulcers. Taking care of skin tears and wounds early on can prevent development of more serious problems.
Taking care of chronic wounds in an environment of wound care rehab for seniors gives the best chances for healing.