Many times, healing a wound means saving a life. For older adults, wounds can take longer to heal. This is especially true for those with those with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, or morbid obesity. These diseases can restrict blood flow, slowing down the healing process.
"Wound care is better described as wound management. Simply put, it includes all aspects of care to take care of a patient with a skin injury,” explains InnovAge’s Dr. Traci Kimball
, a specialist in wound management. “It’s not just about the 'hole' in the patient, but the whole patient.”
Diet, hydration, exercise, and other factors can impact how likely a person may be to recover from a wound. The coordinated healthcare
offered through InnovAge’s Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)
makes sure that all disciplines are working together for each individual in the program.
Another factor is the thinning skin that many adults experience as they age. “Even minor trauma, like a cut or scratch, can become serious and turn into a chronic wound – a wound that won’t heal normally,” she says.
Chronic wounds can include pressure injuries like bed sores, foot ulcers in diabetics, or other ulcers caused by poor circulation. “If an older adult has an infection and develops a wound, it’s more common for that wound not to heal normally on its own,” explains Dr. Kimball.
Older adults, and their family caregivers, should be mindful of their skin, Dr. Kimball advises. “Be on the lookout for scratches or cuts that won’t heal, and any discoloration or changes.” These may be sign it’s time to talk to your physician.
“I love what I do,” Dr. Kimball adds. “Being able to use my hands to change the course of a patient’s wound healing trajectory is why I do what I do; I save limbs and lives.”