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Bed sores are not a normal part of nursing home life

Aging isn't always a graceful or pleasant process. It can be quite difficult to watch your loved ones decline in their final years. For some people, a loss of mental faculties can result in a need for nursing care, as dementia and confusion can make it hard for them to stay home with family. For others, physical issues, such as back, knee or hip pain, could leave them mostly bound to their bed. Nursing care may ensure proper cleaning and support.

It's never an easy decision to place a loved one in an assisted living or nursing care facility. Once the decision is made and your loved one transitions to the new living situation, you will need to serve as advocate to protect his or her rights. You need to be on the watch for signs of physical, emotional, financial and sexual abuse. You also need to watch for signs of neglect. Bed sores are often an early warning that your loved one isn't receiving adequate care.

Proper care and rotation should prevent bed sores

In most cases, nursing staff can prevent the formation of bed sores by helping people in their care regularly shift and move points of pressure. Pillows and special supports can reduce pressure on certain areas, while physically lifting and shifting those confined to bed also relieves painful pressure on key areas.

Staff should ensure your loved one is clean, safe and comfortable while confined to bed or a wheelchair. A failure to maintain cleanliness and ensure proper rotation could soon result in painful and potentially serious bed sores.

Know the signs of bed sores and take action if you notice them

Certain parts of the body are more prone than others to develop bed sores or pressure sores. These include the tailbone or buttocks, the spine, the back of the arms and legs where they touch the bed or chair, the shoulder blades, the back or sides of the head, the hips and lower back, the heels, ankles and the back of the knees. When you come for a visit, try to check these areas on your loved one's body for signs of bed sores.

The first stage of bed sores include a change in the color or texture of the skin, swelling of the affected area, development of an ulcer, puss leaking or weeping from the wound or even areas that are quite tender to the touch. In the earlier stages, bed sores may just look like mild discoloration or bruising. As it progresses, however, it can result in deep tissue damage that affects the muscle and even the bone near the injury site.

If your loved one isn't receiving proper care and develops bed sores, you need to take action as soon as possible.

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