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How serious are bedsores?

If you have a loved one who is confined to a wheelchair or bed, you may be concerned about bedsores, especially if he or she lives in a nursing home. Knowing that many elderly people in New Mexico and elsewhere are neglected or abused in nursing homes, your fear is understandable. Unfortunately, bedsores are a common affliction affecting those with limited mobility.

According to the Mayo Clinic, bedsores, or pressure wounds, most often occur when someone is sitting or lying in one position for too long without being moved. The pressure on the skin from a chair or mattress irritates the skin and underlying tissue, eventually resulting in a painful spot or open wound. Usually, bedsores are found over bony areas that rest on surfaces, such as the tailbone, hips, back of the head, elbows, ankles or heels. Your loved one may develop a bedsore if he or she is not moved occasionally to relieve the pressure on the skin.

Healthcare officials say that bedsores vary in degrees of severity. The worst wounds may go down to the bone. Some people who suffer from pressure wounds can develop dangerous infections, including cellulitis or sepsis. Unhealed, long-term bedsores can also become cancerous, turning into a form of squamous cell carcinoma. As you know, these conditions can be painful for your loved one and even threaten his or her life.

The signs of bedsores include redness, tenderness, swelling, changes in skin texture or color and open wounds. You may choose to seek legal assistance if you notice your loved one suffering from pressure wounds and are concerned that he or she is being mistreated.

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