I'm caring for my grandmother who is diabetic and doesn't move around much. How do I prevent bed sores?

The Hyperbaric Medicine & Wound Center

Q. I'm caring for my grandmother who is diabetic and doesn't move around much. How do I prevent bed sores?

A. This can be challenging, but there are some things you can do:

Pay attention to her overall health: People with chronic wounds often have other underlying conditions such as diabetes, peripheral arterial disease, vascular disease or radiation injuries.

Be on the lookout: Physical changes as we age can reduce our ability to sense touch and pressure. Conditions such as diabetes may cause nerve damage which can impair sensation of feeling and failing eyesight can make it difficult to detect changes in the skin

Know her medications: Often medicines will be needed to treat wounds against infection so it is important to have a list of what medicines she is currently taking and any to which she is allergic.

Watch her balance: Balance disorders may be caused by aging, problems with the inner ear, medications, infections, poor blood circulation or other conditions. Have her see a doctor to diagnose the cause and be careful when standing, sitting and walking.

Eat properly: Poor nutrition can lead to skin changes such as rashes and not drinking enough water also increases the risk of skin injury.

Take care of her skin: Glands under the skin produce less oil as we age resulting in dry and itchy skin. Use moisturizers to keep skin moist and more ready to heal.

Guard against bed sores: Bed sores occur when an area of skin under constant pressure breaks down.

Risk factors include being older, limited mobility, having a condition that inhibits blood flow and malnourishment. Do not massage the area since it can tear the skin and break fragile blood vessels can be easily broken.

Know when to seek medical treatment: Infections can delay healing and spread to other parts of the body. Warning signs include increased pain at the wound site, redness or swelling spreading away from the wound, a foul odor or change in color or amount of drainage from the wound, fever, chills, nausea or vomiting.

For more information about chronic wounds, contact the Hyperbaric Medicine & Wound Healing Center located at Wooster Community Hospital or call 330-263-8750.