Could you please give me suggestions on how to treat pressure sores?

1 answer | Last updated: Dec 02, 2016
Acesis asked...

Could you please give me suggestions on how to treat pressure sores?  My mother is 86 and had a stroke five years ago.  We have been able to keep her from getting pressure sores up until now, but she has developed a couple. She is in a recliner during the day and a hospital bed at night.

Expert Answers

Laura Beltramo, a physical therapist who specializes in geriatrics, graduated with honors from the University of California at San Francisco in 2000. She loves her job working as the sole physical therapist at a premier life-care facility in San Francisco. She has written articles and lectured extensively on fall prevention and other issues relevant to the aging experience. As a registered yoga teacher, she teaches yoga, meditation, and other mindfulness techniques to seniors -- helping them expand their repertoire for coping with stress, pain, and illness in the later years.


You're right in being concerned about your parent's bed sores, as they can potentially develop into fatal complications. Bed sores or pressure sores are medically termed "decubitus ulcers," referring to the formation of a wound due to prolonged pressure on a particular point on the body.

Bony parts of the body are most at risk for developing bed sores, such as the heels, hips, spine, shoulder blades, and elbows. It's important to check these areas frequently for redness that lasts longer than 30 minutes after the pressure is relieved, localized areas of warmth or tenderness, or areas where the skin is broken.

If any of these signs are present, a medical professional, nurse or doctor, should be notified immediately, to prevent the area from progressing to a mores serious wound.

Bed sores are treated with a combination of cleaning, body positioning to minimize pressure, and sometimes antibiotics, if they've become infected.

It's important to say that bed sores can almost always be prevented. Talk to your parent's medical team about a "bed positioning program," to make sure your parent is moved every two hours. You may also want to consider a pressure-reducing mattress, that is filled with air, gel, or water; or a mattress made from "egg crate" foam. Proper nutrition, regular diapering changes, and clean, well-fit sheets are also key in preventing bed sores.

Don's go this alone. Whether your parent is living at home or in a nursing home, his medical team can and should help. Tell them you are concerned about bed sores. Ask for advice that includes checking out your parent in person to make a clinical diagnosis, and to devise a personalized prevention plan.