The Importance of Nutrition in Managing Bedsores

Residents of nursing homes and long term care facilities need proper nutrition to help maintain their health. Good nutrition provides energy and it helps the body to heal. It is vital in the treatment of bedsores, sometimes called pressure sores or pressure ulcers.

When a nursing home patient remains immobile for a long period of time, the constant pressure on the skin may cause the skin tissue to break down and the patient to develop bedsores or pressure ulcers. Caregivers at nursing homes should reposition residents who are bedridden frequently to prevent the development of bedsores, which can become infected and spread infection to other areas of the body. But sometimes nursing homes are understaffed and residents do not receive the individual attention they need and deserve.

According to the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel, between 2 percent and 23 percent of patients in long term care facilities develop pressure ulcers. Good nutrition is a key part of a comprehensive care plan for prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers. Residents need adequate calories, protein, fluids, vitamins, and minerals to prevent breakdown of skin tissue and to promote healing of open ulcers.

Upon admission, residents of nursing homes should be assessed as to their health needs and risk of developing bedsores.  Pressure sores most commonly appear on the buttocks, hips, heels, elbow, back, shoulders, ankles, and back of the head. A nursing home resident is more susceptible to pressure ulcer if the resident:

  • Uses a wheelchair
  • Has a disease that affects blood flow
  • Has fragile skin
  • Has urinary or bowel incontinence
  • Does not receive enough nutrition

Residents of nursing homes who have bedsores should have a follow up nutritional assessment by a dietitian, the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel recommends.

The nutritional assessment should include:

  • Resident’s ability to eat independently
  • Nutritional value of total food and fluid consumption
  • Weight history and any significant loss of weight from usual body weight

The team of caregivers at the nursing home should develop an individualized plan of nutrition intervention for the resident.

Energy is critical for the healing of pressure ulcers.

Protein levels for patients with pressure ulcers should be 1.25 to 1.5 grams, according to Today’s Dietitian, a magazine for nutrition professionals. Clinical trials indicate that increased protein levels promote the closure and healing of pressure ulcers. Protein energy malnutrition is excessive loss of lean body mass caused by too little energy supplied by body tissue. The condition can be reversed by the administration of nutrition.

A lack of proper nutrition may adversely affect the body’s ability to resist infections and slow the healing of bedsores. Bedsores may be a warning sign that your loved one who resides in a nursing home is not receiving proper care and nutrition and may be suffering from nursing home neglect.

If you suspect that your loved one is a victim of nursing home neglect or abuse in Kentucky, Tennessee, or Indiana, contact a lawyer who is committed to protecting nursing home residents. The nursing home neglect lawyers at the Becker Law Office are here to help the victims of nursing home neglect and abuse and their families. Contact us today.