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Pressure Sores Risk

Why are the elderly most at risk of pressure sores?
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Pressure Sores risk?

Older people are at a greater risk of developing pressure sores, particularly if they have difficulty moving due to injury, illness or sedation. Elderly people are most at risk because they:

  • Have thinner skin, meaning they are much more vulnerable to damage caused by minor skin pressure.
  • Are often underweight, which means there won’t be a lot of padding on their bones to protect from constant pressure.
  • Are prone to problems with poor nutrition, which may affect their skin quality and blood vessels and result in less effective healing. Experts warn that even if an elderly patient is well nourished and has good overall health, the sore could still take a lot longer to heal compared with the healing times of younger people.
Typically, pressure sores affect people confined to a chair or bed with a debilitating illness and can be very painful indeed. Pressure sores are essentially wounds that develop when there is continuous pressure or friction on one area of the body, leading the skin to become damaged. The wounds occur because the pressure prevents blood from flowing normally, leading cells to die and skin to break down. Sores can occur in any area of the body, whether that’s a bony or cartilaginous area. However, most commonly affected are the ankles, knees, elbows and sacrum – a triangular bone which sits at the base of the spine, upper and back area of the pelvic cavity (acting as a wedge between the two hip bones). Pressure sores are defined by UK and USA health authorities as the second most iatrogenic cause of death, which describes an unforeseen death that comes about as a result of medical treatment and cites a the actions of a physician or the therapy prescribed by a doctor as the cause. Pressure sores trail only to adverse drug reactions as the highest cause of death and the NHS estimates between 4 per cent and 10 per cent of hospitalised patients will have at least one pressure sore in their lifetime.

More information

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