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Gary Barg - Editor-in-chief Keeping Pressure Away

Of all of the stories I have heard from family caregivers over the past 17 years, none are usually as heartrending as when they talk about their loved one’s pressure ulcers, whether it is a World War II veteran or a 20-year-old who was in a motorcycle accident. Pressure ulcers occur in people who have little or no mobility, which would allow them to change positions and relieve pressure on the body. Nerve impairment makes for diminished sensation, and your loved one may have difficulty assessing whether a given area is more sensitive than another. Over time, skin breakdown occurs, unless someone is checking the skin at regular intervals.

External pressure that is consistent will leave anyone with soreness, and even a mark. But there is activity going on under the skin, too. Circulation changes when pressure is applied, which hampers the ability of the body’s tissues to “bounce back,” both literally and figuratively.

Simple Solutions
Your loved one may have at-home nursing care, but if you are around for bath time, both you and the home health aide should check together. You should also be vigilant if your loved one is in a rehab facility, hospital or nursing home. 

Keeping skin clean and dry is a “common sense” option that may be difficult to do if your loved one has any degree of incontinence. Incontinence products that wick away moisture can help. According to Principle Business Enterprises’ Judy Borcherdt, RN, BSN, “It is critical that individuals dealing with incontinence understand the importance of maintaining healthy skin. To prevent Incontinence Associated Dermatitis (Diaper Dermatitis) which can lead to a full blown pressure ulcer within five days, it's important to keep the skin dry and protected. Along with an effective skin care protocol such as proper cleansing, the use of a high performance incontinent product is key.“

As Adam Greenberg, President of NorthShore Care Supply, states, “There’s no question that using high performance incontinence supplies that wick moisture away from the skin in just seconds is a win-win all the way around. They allow the patient and caregiver to sleep through the night, cut down on skin breakdown and infections, reduce linen changes and cost less due to needing fewer products.”

It’s true that pressure ulcers can progress quickly where the skin is very damaged and may have to be surgically removed. However, proper attention and timely intervention can help keep pressure sores from challenging the health and well-being of your loved one.



  Gary Barg
Today's Caregiver magazine
Friday March 23, 2012
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