By Zack Kouyoumjian, MBA, MSN, RN

Contributing author

As the US inhabitants ages, it is more and more vital that older adults and their caregivers are conscious of skin well being, methods to protect getting older skin, how to deal with wounds and when to search remedy from a doctor. 

With getting older, skin loses water content material and power, inflicting dryness and thinning. This is the reason bruising and welts occur extra usually with older adults. These elements, in addition to sure well being situations, can create wounds that take longer to heal. 

Zack Kouyoumjian, MBA, MSN, RN, program director, Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medication

Together with skin modifications, older adults face many age-linked situations, reminiscent of continual diabetic ulcers, peripheral vascular illness, mobility points and extra. These situations incessantly trigger wound an infection and ulcers, with roughly 70% of all strain ulcers occurring within the older grownup inhabitants. Wound care — or correct medical remedy and at-home care — will help seniors and caregivers correctly look after wounds and ulcers.  

Threat elements

Wound care is particularly vital for older adults with continual illnesses or danger elements reminiscent of:

  • Continual obstructive pulmonary illness (COPD) 
  • Cardiovascular illnesses
  • Peripheral arterial illness (PAD)
  • Diabetes
  • Peripheral neurotrophy 
  • Corticosteroid utilization 
  • Anemia
  • Malnutrition 
  • Utilizing a wheelchair

Seniors with COPD might expertise poor wound therapeutic due to low ranges of oxygen within the blood. Oxygen is critical for cell regeneration, controlling an infection and lowering swelling of the tissue. With out an sufficient oxygen provide, wounds are inclined to slower therapeutic and have a better danger of an infection. 

Cardiovascular illnesses reminiscent of congestive coronary heart failure or coronary heart illness disrupt the move of blood, oxygen and vitamins to the wound web site, main to delayed therapeutic. 

Seniors which have hypertension or diabetes have an elevated likelihood of growing PAD. PAD narrows and blocks the blood vessels within the legs and ft, inflicting a lower in blood circulation. Skin well being is adversely affected by the diminished blood provide — main to an elevated danger for an infection in wounds. 

Older adults with kind 1 and 2 diabetes are inclined to wound formation and an infection. With diabetes comes the issue of wound therapeutic due to impaired white blood cell functioning and excessive blood sugar ranges. Diabetes can also be related to peripheral neurotrophy, or nerve injury. Peripheral neurotrophy reduces feeling and sensation, which can lead to unnoticed wounds and increased an infection danger.

Corticosteroids are prescribed to decrease irritation within the physique and deal with bronchial asthma or arthritis. Unwanted side effects of corticosteroids embrace skin thinning and weakened immune system, which might trigger skin tears and sluggish wound therapeutic. 

Remedy for widespread wounds

Skin modifications and well being situations could make small wounds reminiscent of cuts, burns and skin tears tough to heal. Seniors with minor wounds ought to monitor the affected space and search immediate medical remedy to cut back an infection danger.

Continual illnesses or danger elements might predispose older adults to ulcers. Frequent skin ulcers embrace:

  • Diabetic ulcers
  • Arterial ulcers
  • Venous stasis ulcers 

Diabetic ulcers are open sores attributable to poor blood circulation, excessive blood sugar ranges and nerve injury. Diabetic ulcers sometimes kind within the legs and ft. Indicators of a diabetic ulcer embrace swelling, redness, open lesions, fluid drainage or odor. Typically, older adults with peripheral neurotrophy might not really feel a diabetic ulcer, main to an infection.  

Arterial ulcers are deep sores attributable to blocked arteries and poor blood circulation to the legs and ft. Traits of an arterial ulcer are yellow, brown and black shade in addition to chilly temperature.  

Venous stasis ulcers happen within the legs and ft on account of vein injury, blood clots and poor blood circulation. Redness, inexperienced or yellow discharge, fluid drainage and swelling are indicators of a venous stasis ulcer. 

All of those ulcers require quick medical consideration. If any of the indicators listed above are skilled, name a physician instantly. A wound care specialist will deal with the wound by eradicating any useless tissue, draining fluid, making use of an anti-bacterial dressing or continuing with superior remedy. An at-home care regime may even be really useful.

Prevention

Older adults can stop poor wound therapeutic by managing well being situations, exercising repeatedly in addition to by sustaining a wholesome low-fat and excessive protein food regimen. It’s important that seniors comply with prescribed regimes for treating continual illnesses. Uncontrolled situations can lead to tissue injury all through the physique. 

Different ideas that older adults and caregivers can use at house for wound prevention embrace: 

  • Keep hydration by ingesting 1.7 liters of water every day 
  • Use moisturizing lotion in your skin to stop cracks 
  • Keep away from utilizing a heating pad to cut back burn danger
  • Change sides usually when laying down to cut back ulcer formation
  • Put on correctly becoming footwear to cut back danger of foot ulcers

When you’ve got a wound or ulcer, consultants on the Wound Therapeutic Middle at MemorialCare Lengthy Seaside Medical Middle can present you high quality, complete remedy. Our heart makes use of multidisciplinary care choices and up-to-date approaches to successfully heal wounds. To be taught extra, name 800-MEMORIAL (636-6742).