Post Operative Wound Care for Seniors
Post operative wound care for seniors can be carried out at home or in a rehab center offering post acute care.
Wounds can come about as a result of several things. Common causes are:
- an injury
- following surgery
- wounds due to diabetes
- pressure sores and bed sores
This article discusses wound care for wounds due to surgery.
Why Wound Care Senior Rehab?
Following surgery, the senior patient might be weak or have mobility limitations. It might be difficult for them at the start, physically or emotionally to deal with the wound. If a patient chooses post operative rehabilitation, their recovery from surgery will be eased.
While in a hospital or in rehab center that provides wound care, the nurse will care for the wound. The focus is on the wounds, and they can heal faster. The environment around the wound contributes to faster healing. The main aim is that post surgery complications can be avoided.
What is the Patient’s Responsibility?
Certainly when a patient goes home, they need to know how to care for a wound. They also need to know how to spot sings of an infection whether in the hospital, in residential rehab center or at home.
Signs of Infection
Danger signs of infection at the site of the wound are:
- increasing tenderness
- redness and puffiness
- pussy or colored discharge
- the wound smells
- change in characteristics of wound: a different color, depth, size or texture
Basic Steps in Caring for A Wound
- Hygiene is critical with wound care. The aim is to stop infection developing, at the site of the wound or in any place.
- Wash your hands with warm soapy water before and after wound care. Sterile gloves can be used.
- Lay out the materials you will need in a clean place.
- The surgeon will tell the patient when the initial bandage may be removed.
- The instructions will include for how many days a bandage should be used, thereafter. The idea of using a bandage is to prevent the area of the wound from getting an injury.
- Any bandage used, will generally be changed once each day. Sterile gauze is used for an open wound. Change a gauze if the drainage from the wound soaks or soils the gauze.
Keeping the Wound Clean
- Using a clean gauze or a soft cloth, clean the area of the wound from discharge and any debris from the wound.
- If you use a tweezers for small items, it should be sterilized.
- Dab around the area of the wound with cloth or gauze soaked in soapy water or sterile saline solution. Pat dry with clean gauze.
- Cleansing materials to avoid: skin cleansers, harsh soaps, peroxide, rubbing alcohol, antiseptic solutions. This could cause damage to the new, developing healing tissue.
Keeping the Wound Dry
- Usually a surgeon will prohibit a bath or shower for 24 hours after surgery.
- Sponge bathing may be permitted.
- The surgeon will tell the patient when it is safe to shower. A shower is preferable to a bath.
- Avoid prolonged soaking in water, so as not to open the wound. Ask the surgeon when a waterproof dressing may be applied so that you could take a shower.
- Petroleum jelly – ask the surgeon if it is helpful in your case. Petroleum jelly can be used to moisturize a wound and promote its healing. Some moisture is needed to let the wound heal.
- How active you can be will depend on the surgeon’s advice in a particular case.
- Make sure to ask if and when you may exercise. Exercise is an important contributor in the healing process. Gentle stretches and yoga type exercises/meditation can help with healing, after being okay-ed by the surgeon.
- Eat and drink sufficiently. Foods that promote healing of wounds include: Protein, foods high in vitamin A and C.
- Sleep enough. During the sleep time the body can heal better.
- Skin elasticity: Try to make up for less skin elasticity in a senior and slower development of new healing skin tissue. Ask the surgeon whether you may or should use petroleum jelly on the skin around the wound.
Post operative wound care for seniors requires more care due to the affects of aging and slower re=ate of healing in a senior adult.
By following best practices in post operative wound care for seniors the healing process will be smoother with fewer complications on the road to a full recovery.
Photo by Robert Lukeman on Unsplash