As people get older, their bodies often become more fragile. Bones break more easily, and even the skin tissue can become weak and susceptible to injury. This is why pressure ulcers, or bedsores, are common and dangerous in the elderly and require immediate care and treatment. In fact, untreated pressure ulcers are often a sign of nursing home neglect.
A pressure ulcer forms when the skin presses between two hard surfaces, such as a bone and the bed, cutting off the blood circulation to that area. In the elderly, this may not take long, even a few hours. Certain areas of the body are more vulnerable to such wounds, such as the buttocks, tailbone and heels, but other areas may also develop ulcers. Several medical conditions, such as diabetes, can make a resident even more likely to develop pressure ulcers.
The existence of pressure ulcers does not necessarily mean a nursing home resident is suffering from neglect. However, a sore that reaches beyond the early stages may indicate that nursing home staff is not moving, bathing or tending to a resident. Checking for signs of pressure ulcers should be part of the daily routine in nursing homes, especially for residents who are confined to a bed or wheelchair or who have other high-risk conditions.
Caring for bedsores is not always easy, but regular cleaning and fast intervention can decrease the chances of the infection spreading. Let go too long, a pressure ulcer can spread down to the muscle and bone, leading to permanent damage or even death. Those whose loved ones have suffered from nursing home neglect may want to hold those accountable in civil court for the suffering their loved ones endured.