Preventing Pressure Injuries

Anyone with reduced mobility, and particularly those confined to a chair or bed, are at an increased risk of developing pressure injuries. Pressure injuries occur when there is constant pressure on the soft tissue of the body and are most common where the bone is more prominent. If untreated they can lead to necrosis or death of the skin in the affected area.

Home Care, Caregiver, Pressure Injuries, Bedsore

Older adults are at an increased risk of developing pressure sores as our skin becomes thinner and more delicate as we age. Other risk factors include:

  • Immobility and paralysis – such as following a stroke
  • Loss of sensation – for example in those with diabetes
  • Incontinence which can irritate the skin
  • Malnutrition leading to reduced skin integrity
  • Smoking, which reduces blood flow to the skin and slows healing

Pressure injuries commonly occur on the tailbone, hips, shoulders, back or sides of the head, backs or sides of the knees and in the heels, toes and ankles.

The most effective ways to prevent pressure injuries include:

  • Regular position changes, every 15 minutes in a chair and every two hours (even during sleep) in bed
  • Mattresses and cushions designed to relieve pressure
  • Regular skin assessments if you are at risk of developing pressure injuries
  • Skin care to ensure that skin is neither too dry nor too moist
  • Balanced diet and good hydration

A community nurse can provide skin assessments and can assist with wound care, while a carer can assist with ensuring management plans are correctly carried out.
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