When you have an elderly parent that has recently suffered an injury, you may wonder what you can or should do to help them in the healing process. Whether they are in an assisted living home or living on their own, they will likely need help managing their wound care, and some assisted living facilities are not capable of providing these types of medical services. If this is the case with your elderly parent, you may feel at least partially responsible for their wound care. Get to know some of the important facts about wound care for elderly patients. Then you can ensure that your parent gets the best care and support possible in the healing process.
Wounds Can Take Longer to Heal in Elderly Patients
One of the important things to keep in mind when your parent has a wound that requires tending to is that it is normal for such wounds to take a while to heal. When a person is older, their body reacts more slowly to injuries. For example, the normal response in the body to a wound is to become inflamed. The inflammation triggers white blood cells to react to the wound, initiating the healing process. This is slower in older adults than in young people.
Another factor to consider is the elasticity of the skin. Older people's skin is not as elastic as that of younger adults; this means the skin does not bounce back as quickly. In other words, when the skin tears, it does not pull back together as readily in elderly adults as it does in those who are younger. The result, again, is a delay in the healing process.
Try to be patient with their wound healing and do not panic if their injury takes longer to heal than your own. If, however, after a few weeks, you notice no signs of improvement or the wound isn't almost completely healed within a month, you should take your parent to a medical care provider.
Your Parent's Diet Can Help Their Wound Heal
Encouraging your parent to have a healthy diet is one of the ways that you can help them with their wound care. In order to heal properly, the body needs the right combination of nutrients and vitamins. Eating lean protein every day, for example, is one of the ways to get proper nutrition. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables and limiting refined carbs and sugars can also help.
You Should Watch for Signs of Infection
Because injuries in elderly people can take more time to heal, there is also a higher risk that they will develop an infection from their wound. Because of this, it is important that you keep an eye on the wound for signs of infection. For example, white, yellow, or green drainage from the wound can be a sign of infection. If you notice this type of drainage when you change their dressing, a trip to a physician may be in order.
Other signs of infection can include redness around the site of the wound, swelling and inflammation, and the wound being warm to the touch. When you notice these issues with your parent's wound, get them to a doctor as soon as possible. Elderly people often have weaker immune systems and need strong antibiotics and other treatments to help stop an infection from worsening and spreading.
Now that you know some of the important facts about wound care for your elderly parent, you can provide them with the best help and support possible.