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- Question: Do you have any tips for preventing bed sores in an elderly patient who is bed bound? We turn him every 2 hours during the day, but cannot do it overnight.
Bed sores can result from excessive skin or tissue pressure or shearing of
blood vessels. You are correct to be concerned about preventing them; it
is far easier than healing them. Propping with pillows is one way to reduce the amount of tissue pressure that can occur on areas where muscle and skin are thin such as the elbows, lower back bone, ankles, knees and
the heels. For a side lying position, place pillows between the knees
length wise so that the ankles are also separated by the pillow and place
another pillow between the arm that is resting on top or to the side of the
chest, slightly bending the elbow and elevate the wrist and hand. A small
flexible rubber ball or hand rolled wash cloth may be placed in the palm.
Pillows may be placed beneath the head/neck, both arms and the knees and
feet so that the heels are elevated from the mattress for a back lying
position. This position requires care not to leave the pelvis in a
downward, dependent position for an extended period of time. Foam mattress
may also be used. Lift rather than drag the person across the sheets as
dragging can result in shearing of both skin and blood vessels. Another
option is one of the specialized air system beds which may be ordered by
the physician for those individuals meeting the requirements. Some
insurance companies will cover the cost or partial cost of the special bed.
Check with your physician about this bed if that is an option to be