Skin is our body’s largest organ, and it’s exposed to all the elements of our environment and lifestyles. As we age, our skin becomes dryer and thinner, which can lead to skin breakdown, especially with an immobilized person.
Skin breakdown occurs when there is unrelieved pressure to an area on the body. This pressure impedes the circulation to the skin and causes an ulcer to form. Other factors that can contribute to skin breakdown are poor hydration, poor nutrition and maceration caused by prolonged exposure to wetness.
Many families with an elderly person at home may rely on a home care agency to provide appropriate care. But here are 5 tips to keep seniors as comfortable as possible throughout the day, whether or not you have a caregiver’s helping hand:
- Turn and reposition the person at least every 2 hours. Massage pressure points with each turn.
- If they are incontinent, change the diaper when soiled to prevent maceration of the skin.
- Clean skin well and use barrier creams with each diaper change.
- Check all areas of the body daily for early signs of skin breakdown. Early signs include discoloration and redness that doesn’t go away with massage or pressure relief.
- Offer plenty of fluids and meals with protein.
Caregivers are trained to observe their clients for skin issues and to report changes to the family and to their agency’s nursing supervisor. The supervisor should assist the family in determining the best plan of action for future care.