Many of our body’s functions change as we age. We grow hair in new places, we lose hair in others, our bodies tolerate foods differently and we may lose our keys a bit more often. Our skin also changes as we age, becoming thinner and often changing in texture and color. Additionally, aging skin is less efficient at healing even small wounds and less able to regenerate itself.
Properly caring for a wound is a critical part of the healing process at any age. For seniors, effective and proper wound care is a crucial part of overall health care. Basic wound care consists of three goals:
- To avoid chronic wounds
- To reduce the risk of serious infection
- To create a care plan that incorporates all related aspects of care
Because mature skin is at increased risk for complications from even minor wounds, it is important to understand what type of care is needed for different kinds of wounds, the risks of improper wound care and the best way to handle senior wound care.
What Are the Different Types of Wounds?
Wound care is a medical treatment plan for wounds that are not healing on their own; usually wound care begins if a wound has not started healing on its own within two weeks or has not completely healed within six weeks. For older adults, the types of wounds that require wound care usually fall into one of these categories:
- Pressure sores
- Surgical wounds
- Radiation sores
For any of these types of wounds, there are many factors that can lead to non-healing wounds, chronic wounds or systemic illnesses. Contributing factors can include:
- Heart issues, including but not limited to heart disease, varicose veins and high blood pressure
- Unhealthy habits, such as smoking, inactivity or an unhealthy diet
- Circulation problems
- A history of ulcers
- Certain medications
- A weakened immune system
- Conditions such as cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, arthritis and anemia
Senior Wound Care
Understanding what can put a senior at higher risk for non-healing wounds can help that person and any involved caregivers to be more aware of the potential danger. However, there are also some daily routines that can help to prevent serious wounds and steps that can be incorporated into senior wound care to increase the chance of successful healing. Here are some ways to minimize the risk of wounds and improve the healing for existing sores:
- Change position through the day to reduce the impact of pressure on the skin. Changing position every 15 minutes is ideal when it is possible. Greenfield Rehabilitation & Health Care Center has trained team members to help residents move safely in most circumstances.
- Eat a healthy diet. The best choices include foods rich in Vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, strawberries, spinach, potatoes, broccoli, kiwi and bell peppers. Greenfield Rehabilitation offers nutritious, delicious meals and snacks daily.
- Incontinence products can shield the skin from bacteria and moisture.
- Protect skin from the sun by using sunscreen, wearing protective clothing and limiting time in the sunlight.
- Using talcum powder can create a layer of insulation on the skin to keep it moist, but not wet.
- Cleaning skin with water and mild soap helps to prevent rashes. Use warm water for bathing, rather than hot water.
- When resting, elevating the head above the rest of the body helps to prevent shearing.
For seniors living in a senior community, the care team plays an essential role in basic first aid for wounds, watching for changes to the skin and identifying risks for future injuries. At Greenfield Rehabilitation, the Complex Wound Care Program is designed to care for patients with non-healing wounds using the latest medical treatments and therapies. For seniors living alone, caregivers and family members can help by taking prompt action following a small, acute wound and getting medical care for more serious injuries.
About Greenfield Rehabilitation & Health Care Center
Greenfield Rehabilitation & Health Care Center has provided senior care to Iowa’s Adair County for nearly 50 years. Offering compassionate, personalized care focused on each resident’s intellectual and emotional health, our community’s services include skilled nursing, assisted living and rehabilitation.
Want to set up a tour at Greenfield? We would love to see you or to answer any questions you may have. Contact us today!