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Watch for Infection! Importance of Wound Care for the Elderly

Early Treatment for Wounds

Prompt attention to wounds is vital for the elderly. Even seemingly minor injuries can escalate into major problems if left untreated. As we age, many factors work together to prolong healing.  Thinner skin and medications are two of the common reasons for longer healing time in elderly people.  

Caregivers should clean wounds with mild soap and water, apply an antiseptic, and cover them with a sterile bandage. Seeking medical attention for wounds that are deep, large, or show signs of infection is crucial. Delaying treatment can increase the risk of complications such as infection, tissue damage, and even amputation in severe cases.

Consequences of Neglecting Wound Care

Neglecting proper wound care can have serious consequences for the elderly. Untreated wounds are susceptible to infection, which can spread rapidly and lead to systemic complications such as sepsis. Chronic wounds, such as pressure ulcers or diabetic foot ulcers, can develop if not managed effectively, causing pain, discomfort, and reduced mobility. In severe cases, untreated wounds may require surgical intervention or lead to hospitalization, further compromising the elderly person’s health and quality of life.

Recognizing Signs of Infection

Caregivers play a crucial role in monitoring wounds for signs of infection. Common signs include redness, warmth, swelling, increased pain or tenderness, pus or drainage, and a foul odor. Fever, chills, and flu-like symptoms may also indicate a systemic infection. Caregivers should promptly report any concerning symptoms to healthcare professionals for evaluation and treatment. Additionally, educating caregivers on proper wound care techniques and signs of infection empowers them to provide optimal care and support for the elderly.  AARP has an informative video for caregivers on general principles of wound care.  Watch it here:

How Flourish in Place Can Help

Our caregivers have training to notice changes in their clients’ health.  They stay on top of minor cuts and abrasions to be sure they are not getting worse.  If they notice signs of infection, they take pictures of the area and send them to our nurse, who advises them how to proceed.  Our nurse and caregivers include the family in conversations about potential infection and update them on progress.  By prioritizing wound care, our caregivers can help ensure their clients maintain their quality of life and avoid unnecessary suffering.

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