During your golden years, you're more likely to develop wounds. It's estimated that about 70% of all pressure wounds occur in geriatric patients. As you get older, it's more difficult for even minor wounds and ulcers to heal. Because open wounds leave you more prone to infection, it's important to learn how to prevent wounds early on.
Why Wounds Won't Heal
No matter your age is, wounds and injuries in the lower extremities -- legs and feet -- are known for slow healing. This is due to simple physics. It's just harder for your body to circulate blood when it's working against gravity. Plus, your feet, in particular, are so far away from your heart, it's increasingly difficult to deliver a fresh blood supply.
As you get older though, it's even more difficult for wounds to heal, especially on your lower legs and feet. This can stem from:
- A poor diet that's lacking essential nutrients
- Blood thinner medications or coagulation issues
- Dead skin surrounding a wound
- Inadequate water intake
Or if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or other chronic circulatory system issues, blood circulation is likely impacted due to blood vessel damage. If blood can't easily reach the wound, your skin tissue can't get the nutrients it needs to heal the injury.
Simple Tips to Prevent Wounds
Since it's so difficult for wounds to heal when you're a senior and if you're immobile in a nursing home, wounds can sometimes go unnoticed, which is why prevention is key. Your skin becomes thinner and drier as you age. It's critical to minimize your exposure to harsh chemicals, such as cleaning solvents, to decrease your risk of wounds caused by irritants.
It's just as important for you to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Get in the habit of keeping a water bottle close by and sipping throughout the day. For some seniors, it's helpful to set alarms throughout the day to remind them to drink.
Additional Ways to Protect Your Skin
Talk with your wound care professional and medical team about additional steps you can make to protect your skin. Some other things you can do to prevent wounds include:
- Apply an unscented moisturizer several times a day
- Pat drying your skin after bathing
- Avoid drying antimicrobial soaps
- Take a multivitamin supplement
You should also make efforts to protect your skin by wearing long sleeves, pants, and socks as much as possible. These protective layers can further help prevent issues with wounds. Whether you or a loved one are living in an assisted living facility or nursing home, daily skin checks are important. The sooner a wound is caught, the easier it is to prevent or treat infections to prevent serious complications.