Limited mobility, whether temporary or permanent, can bring a host of different challenges. There are the practical and logistical difficulties of managing daily living activities, like getting dressed, using the restroom, and even feeding one’s self.
There are also the mental challenges that can arise. It’s difficult to lose some or all of your independence. You may have to rely on others for basic tasks. You may grow bored or even depressed by your inability to leave the house or even your bed. If you’re caring for a loved one with limited mobility, you might notice them becoming more withdrawn.
There are numerous difficulties to monitor if you or a loved one has mobility limitations that require extended or even permanent bed rest. However, one of the most dangerous may be something that isn’t on your radar.
It’s the risk of developing bedsores. A bedsore is an injury to the skin and underlying tissue in areas that have been under constant pressure and immobility. They can develop when a portion of the skin doesn’t move for a prolonged period, or when the skin is irritated by shifting sheets. Bedsores often arise on areas of skin directly covering bone, such as the hip, elbow, shoulder, and other joints.
Bedsores can be painful and can make an already-challenging situation even more difficult. If you’re caring for an immobile loved one, the development of bedsores could very well increase their discomfort and threaten their mental state.
One of the worst aspects of bedsores is that they’re difficult to treat after they develop. They often require constant care and attention, with regular application of medication and changing of bandages and gauze. Also, depending on the location of the sores, you or your loved one may have to lay in positions that aren’t comfortable, as it’s important to limit the bedsore’s contact with the mattress.
Given all the complexities of dealing with bedsores, prevention should be high on your priority list. Bedsores are always easier to prevent than they are to treat. If you can proactively work to limit bedsore risk, you will likely save yourself substantial trouble in the future.
Below are a few tips to help you limit the threat of bedsores. If you haven’t implemented these tips into your routine or care plan, now may be the time to do so.
Regular movement is the most important element of bedsore prevention. Remember, sores usually arise when the skin has been in contact with the bed or the sheets for long periods of time. The simple act of shifting positions regularly, like every 15 to 30 minutes, can often be enough to prevent bedsores from developing.
Also, change your elevation if possible. Mix it up between laying flat on your back and sitting in an inclined position. Also try to elevate your legs from time-to-time. Changing elevation levels and positions is important because it interrupts skin contact with the bed and it promotes blood flow, both of which are critical to preventing bedsores.
You can use pillows and the help of loved ones or home health aides to shift positions. However, you may want to look into a bed that gives you the power to control your own movement. Most of the Hill-Rom beds have controls that allow patients to change the elevation of their head and legs. Many also have contoured foam mattresses that make it easier to shift positions.
Take care of your skin.
Another effective way to limit bedsores is to care for your skin. Bedsores start with skin irritation. Excessive dryness and moisture are both big risks that can lead to distressed skin. Wash and dry your skin everyday, especially the areas that directly cover major joints. Use medicated lotion to treat dry skin and talcum powder for moist areas.
Also, be aware of how incontinence plays a role in bedsore risk. Many bedridden individuals try to stretch as much time as possible between trips to the bathroom or between diaper changes because the process is so complicated.
However, urine leakage or dirty diapers can lead to a buildup of moisture and bacteria on your skin. That could create a higher risk of bedsores in a very delicate and sensitive area of your body. While making the trip to the toilet may be difficult, it’s worth doing if it prevents bedsore risk.
Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of a good mattress or cushion. When skin is forced against a mattress or cushion for a long period of time, moisture and irritation can develop. Look for a bed mattress or a wheelchair cushion that conforms to your body and reduces irritation.
Eat a healthy diet.
A healthy diet is always an important part of skin care. Protein, zinc, and Vitamin C all play vital roles in maintaining strong skin. Find ways to keep lean meat and fruits and vegetables in your diet. If possible, have a loved one prepare meals in advance that can be stored near your bed. Even protein- and vitamin-packed snacks can help you keep your skin healthy.
Hydration is also important. Talk to your doctor or caregiver about how much water you should drink. Again, many bedridden individuals limit their water intake because they don’t want to use the bathroom. However, hydration is critical in maintaining your skin and underlying tissue.
It might seem impossible to stay active while you’re restricted to your bed. However, there are things you may be able to do to keep the blood pumping. For instance, a physical therapist or even a loved one may be able to help you do stretching and movement exercises with your arms and legs. Even doing that once a day could be enough to stimulate blood flow and hold off bedsores.
If you have partial mobility, try pushing yourself to do more without assistance. You might try to transfer from the bed to the wheelchair with your caretaker supervising instead of physically lifting you. Or you might try to partially get yourself dressed.
Any kind of movement is good movement, as it promotes bloodflow and works the tissue underneath your skin. That (This) limits bedsore development and protects your skin.
At Med Mart, we have a wide range of aids and tools to help you stay healthy. Bedsores can be a complex and challenging problem. Protect yourself by taking proactive steps. Contact us today and speak with one of our home health consultants for more information. We welcome the opportunity to help you maintain your independence and protect your health.