If your loved one is in a nursing home and develops a bedsore, that's a significant sign of neglect. When an elderly person can't move around on their own well, it's up to the staff to help them adjust and move each day. Without good circulation, bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers, can develop and lead to pain and infection. In the most severe cases, they can cause death.
Not all bedsores are the same, so it is helpful to know the stages and how far along your loved one's injury is. Early stages are much easier to treat, while late stages may require surgery and intensive care. There are four stages that you should know.
Stage 1 bedsores
Stage 1 bedsores are the mildest. They only affect the upper layer of skin, causing symptoms such as itching, burning or pain. The sore may feel warmer or cooler than the surrounding skin and may be firm or soft to the touch. Sometimes, these sores are red, but they don't get lighter when you press on them.
Stage 2 bedsores
Stage 2 bedsores are more serious than Stage 1, since they affect deeper layers of the skin. The skin may be broken in an open wound or be blister-like in appearance. The area could be red, warm or swollen, and it can ooze pus or fluids. This is a more painful form of bedsore.
Stage 3 bedsores
Stage 3 bedsores enter into the fat tissue. The sore may be infected at this point, and it could have redness around the edges, drainage, and heat and puss. It may even smell oddly. At Stage 3, there is the potential for necrosis, which can present as blackened tissues. At this stage, bedsores tend to require antibiotics.
Stage 4 bedsores
Finally, there are Stage 4 bedsores. They are the most serious and can affect tissues and muscles directly. In some severe cases, you can even see the muscles, fat, tissues and bones. Skin will have turned black and there are likely to be signs of infection. This type of bedsore is likely to need surgery and immediate medical attention.
Each of these stages can develop rapidly. If an early bedsore isn't identified and treated, it can continue to worsen. No elderly or immobile person should have to deal with the pain or infection that comes with these wounds. Nursing homes, hospitals and care facilities should be aware of the risk of these injuries and take steps to avoid them.