senior wound care

As we grow old, our skin becomes much more delicate and thinner, making it more vulnerable to tiny cuts, wounds, or other minor injuries. It takes much longer for a senior citizen’s skin to recover from an injury than it would for a child.

You can treat the grazed knee of a five-year-old with antiseptic cream, and it will heal completely in a week or so. However, the same injury can lead to serious complications in a senior adult if not treated properly in time. The repercussions can be life-threatening and long-lasting.

The reason behind this difference is age. A young person’s skin quickly grows and regenerates thanks to the growth hormones. However, as we grow old, the cell regeneration process slows considerably, making healing a complicated issue. Proper wound care is essential for everyone. However, seniors hold more importance as their immunity is not as strong as ours, and the healing process is also slow. To avoid medical complications, the healthcare professional must act fast when treating seniors.

Chronicle health conditions that affect skin integrity, like venous hypertension, peripheral vascular disease, diabetes, and arterial insufficiency, are commonly seen in the aging population. As a result of these ailments, chronic wounds and ulcers that result in skin breakdown are often seen in senior adults.

In this article, let us consider the important aspects of senior wound care that all health professionals abide by.

A Comprehensive Wound Care Guide for Senior Adults

The first step of senior wound care is recognising the wound inflicted on their skin. It will help you determine the next steps of your care plan. There are two primary kinds of injuries, namely, chronic and acute.

What are Chronic Wounds?

As the name suggests, these wounds are never completely healed and often result from minor damage. At the time, the injury might not look very serious. Still, it can take a turn for the bad and develop into a long-lasting medical issue. 

Chronic wounds are mostly caused due to diabetic ulcers. However, seniors living in residential care facilities can also develop chronic wounds due to bed or pressure sores. These wounds are mostly found on the back side and result from lying down in one position for too long.

Therefore, it is vital for healthcare professionals in charge of senior adults to keep an eye out for such injuries and develop a proper wound care plan when needed. Here are some possible causes of chronic wounds:

  • Diabetes
  • Severe inflammation
  • Infection
  • Surgical incisions or stitches that have not healed completely
  • Radiation poisoning from Radiation Therapy
  • Bed sores 
  • methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a superbug that is resistant to most antibiotics

Wound Care Plan for Chronic Wounds

Depending on the wound’s condition and the senior adult’s overall health, the physicians can recommend hospitalisation or strong antibiotics. The sooner the treatment begins, the better.

So, alert the carer or the physician immediately if you notice an unhealed wound or inflamed or swollen skin. There is a possibility that an infection is present. Any delay will make the person vulnerable to MRSA infection.

MRSA is a superbug and is immune to the effects of many antibiotics. Once it affects an open wound, it is very hard to control its spread. Certain medications can counter it; however, they are not always suitable for a senior adult. 

Another chronic wound often seen in the elderly is sepsis which starts from a minor wound. Also known as blood poisoning in the medical community and can become life-threatening if not treated properly in time. It is possible to treat sepsis if caught in time, and with proper wound care, the person can return to a normal life.

What are Acute Wounds?

Acute wounds result from injuries sustained in accidents like trips, falls, knock overs, grazes, cuts from sharp objects, or accidental damage to the skin. If any injuries make the skin graze or bleed, it is very painful for the senior person. It will result in an infection when not treated immediately. 

How to Treat Acute Wounds in Senior Adults?

Here are some wound care steps for acute superficial wounds :

  • Apply adequate pressure on the wound to control or stop the bleeding
  • Once you stop the bleeding, clean it using a mild soap. Never pull at the skin near the wound; always dab it.
  • Apply an antibiotic on the injury and cover it properly with a sterile bandage
  • Keep changing the dressing twice every day until the wound has healed completely.
  • However, if you see the wound has spread or has not healed properly, you might hospitalise the person immediately. There is a high chance of acute injuries turning into chronic wounds in the elderly.

In Conclusion

Wound care is crucial for everyone. However, healthcare professionals must walk the extra mile for senior adults to prevent such wounds from becoming life-threatening medical complications. 

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