The healing and recovery process following a surgical wound or other injury can be a complicated process for anyone but is especially so for seniors.
Once seniors are fit to leave the hospital or return home, the responsibility of senior wound care and treatment often falls on a family member or caretaker. This can be a stressful time for everyone involved but having a full understanding of the unique challenges for treating seniors can lend some confidence.
As we grow older, our bodies experience more hurdles in wound recovery. The amount of time it takes a deep cut or surgery wound to heal for a person in their 20’s can take vastly longer for a person with a similar wound in their 70’s.
If you or a family member are caring or preparing to care for a senior these three factors must always be kept in mind.
Wounds heal more slowly as we age
Several factors contribute to this slower rate of healing, chief among those is a simply slower inflammatory response. When faced with an injury, the body’s blood vessels expand, allowing for a higher volume of white blood cells and nutrients to arrive at the location of the wound, expediting healing. As we age, this inflammatory response can be significantly delayed.
Overall skin elasticity also plays a major role in slower wound healing in the elderly. At younger ages, our skin has a higher level of collagen making it tighter, more adapt at snapping back to its normal position and prone to higher cell production and tissue recovery. As we age, skin visibly sags as a result of a loss of collagen and all the benefits high levels bring.
Applying proper bandaging can aid the mending process by keeping the area moist and helping bring tissue together, slightly stimulating recovery.
Immune system loses power
Another significant factor in the slowing of wound healing is the loss of strength of our immune system. As we age, our body’s ability to detect and fight problems becomes weaker.
A lower immune system strength also makes the elderly more prone to infections. For the elderly, wounds stay open longer, prolonging possible exposure to bacteria and an infection. When infection does occur the body’s lack of ability to quickly deal with it can result in small infections growing worse.
Lingering wounds are susceptible to harmful bacteria at any stage during recovery. For this reason, proper and consistent usage of Dakin’s Solution to keep the wound clean is critical for minimizing the duration of recovery.
Chronic wounds are more common
Chronic wounds are often the result of a perfect storm of all these factors, headlined by a failure to properly treat, cover and protect a wound, whether a result of surgery or injury. The combination of longer lasting wounds and a lower immune system make chronic wounds slow to heal, non-healing or reoccurring wounds like venous ulcers, diabetic ulcers, pressure ulcers and others more likely.
Preventing chronic wounds from developing couldn’t be a higher priority for those with or caring for the wounds of a patient or loved one. A recent study showed a 28% mortality rate over 2 years in patients with chronic wounds specifically from direct complications of the wounds themselves.
To make matters worse, in extremely serious cases autoimmune and vasculitic wounds can even develop from chronic wounds – neither of which are curable.
Proper wound care is never something to be taken lightly, but this is especially so when treating seniors due to the number of factors working against a speedy and full recovery. Century Pharmaceutical’s over the counter Dakin’s Solution is effective in the cleaning and treatment of surgery wounds and injuries for seniors.