HARTMANN in South Africa
Wound Care > Tips for treatment and care > Chronic wounds: Elderly patients need special attention when being treated

Chronic wounds: Elderly patients need special attention when being treated

The wounds of elderly patients differ significantly from those of younger ones. For example, not only concomitant chronic diseases can have a negative effect on wound development and healing.

Elderly people often suffer from a variety of concomitant physical and mental diseases.

Cognitive changes in old age should also be treated with special attention. Nancy Stotts and Harriet Hopf from the University of San Francisco drew particular attention to this in an overview article (Nurs Clin N Am 2005; 40: 267-279).

The majority of patients treated for chronic wounds are older than 65. In addition, a variety of physical and mental concomitant diseases complicate the wound healing processes, which are already lengthy.

Delayed wound healing results in the increased susceptibility of elderly people to wound infection. This is further aggravated by an age-related decline in the immunity of patients. In addition, hearing and vision also deteriorate with age. Therefore, a patient’s ability to make decisions regarding wound healing and treatment and to take part in it is significantly reduced. Hearing problems often make it difficult for patients to understand the instructions given by physicians or nursing staff.

Eyesight problems also mean that a patient’s ability to understand the wound healing process or to change the dressing himself is impaired. In addition, cognitive impairments can also mean that patients do not fully understand the instructions from physicians and nursing staff.

Physicians and nursing staff should be aware of these particular conditions when treating elderly patients with wounds. Only then, according to the conclusion of the authors, can a wound heal properly.