When you entrust your elderly loved ones to a nursing home, you expect them to receive proper care and attention. However, this is not always the case.
Because you cannot spend all your time at the facility, it can be difficult to immediately notice when something is wrong. The presence of bed sores, or pressure ulcers, is a red flag that your loved ones may be a target of neglect or abuse.
What are bed sores?
Bed sores are painful skin injuries that develop due to prolonged pressure on the skin. The pressure cuts off the blood supply to the affected area, killing the skin cells. Typically, they form on bony areas such as heels, hips, lower back areas and elbows. In nursing homes, residents who are immobile or have limited mobility are at a higher risk of developing bed sores if they are not repositioned regularly.
How do bed sores indicate neglect?
Due to limits on or lack of mobility, your loved ones may need help repositioning to avoid bed sores. Proper care includes this as well as good hygiene and providing a balanced diet, all of which can help prevent bed sores. When a resident develops these sores, it suggests that the staff might not be providing the necessary attention and care, allowing the condition to deteriorate to a point where open wounds develop.
What are potential consequences of bed sores?
If left untreated, bed sores can lead to infections, tissue damage and even life-threatening conditions like sepsis. Additionally, bed sores can cause immense pain and discomfort, diminishing the quality of life for your loved ones. In some cases, extensive medical treatment, including surgeries, might be necessary to address the complications arising from neglected bed sores.
A study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services indicates that one out of every five Medicare claims for ER visits involves abuse, including ones for nursing home residents and that these frequently go unreported by the facilities. Watching out for signs like bed sores that may indicate abuse or neglect and investigating further when you notice them can help save your loved ones a great deal of pain.