How sheep helped us avoid our mother getting pressure sores
Pressure sores can become a real risk when someone with dementia starts to spend a lot of time in bed.
As our mother's dementia progressed she was certainly spending more and more time in bed and the risk of pressure sores became very real.
Pressure sores can be very painful and can develop when skin is put under a large pressure over a short time or when a small amount of pressure is applied over a longer period of time. It was really the second cause that Mum was vulnerable to.
We were provided with all the usual equipment like a hospital, profiling bed with a high grade pressure mattress. We were also provided with a small pressure pad for under her feet, although she found this uncomfortable.
We obviously followed all the usual advice as well - Mum was moved regularly, trying to make sure she didn't lie directly on hip bones by putting supports behind her back, inspecting her skin daily during showering and personal care
Even following all this advice rigorously we found that Mum's delicate skin was beginning to show signs of pressure sores - areas of redness on her skin where she had been lying. So we went off and researched the subject for ourselves and found various things that really helped and we managed to avoid any painful, dreadful sores:
We discovered medical sheepskins. We bought her a pressure relief medical sheepskin fleece that we put on her bed. They are not cheap but we felt they were worth their weight in gold. The medical sheepskin is a very dense specially treated sheepskin which supports the body evenly and can be washed at high temperatures to disinfect and then tumble dried. We were concerned about washing it to begin with but we soon found that it would wash and wash and still regain its bounce and softness. We were so impressed that we bought another so that even when one was in the wash we still had one available for use. It also has the other added benefits of wool - temperature regulation and moisture absorbency.
There have been several studies which show the Australian Medical Sheepskin is an effective aid in preventing pressure sores and we certainly found this to be true.
We also invested in sheepskin heel guards to prevent any sores on her heels - again they worked like a dream and kept her toes cosy as well, which seemed to help her sleep.
We used Aussie Fleece Sheepskin but I'm not sure they are available any more so here are a couple of sites I have found but there are many more if you research pressure relief sheepskins
I would always suggest checking the washing instructions - the green ones wash at a very high temperature whereas some others don't.
Here is the NHS information on pressure sores - https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pressure-sores/
The next problem we had was finding a bed jacket for when she wanted to sit up in bed. Well we started with the standard polyester fleece type but we just found these to be a nightmare for so many reasons. They are too long and bunched up at the back risking pressure sores on her back, the fabric is not breathable so she would get too hot, the styling is not conducive to easy dressing - we had to completely restyle it, adding lengths of stretchy rib fabric in the sleeves and sides in order that mum could get her now stiff arms in to it, and on top of all that they were still bed jackets and not desperately attractive.
We realised that all she needed were sleeves essentially but in natural breathable fibres, so tried various things like remodelling silk shirts. These worked pretty well and had the added bonus of looking like day wear.
Then, once again the sheep came to the rescue and we came up with merino wool sleeves. These are great - they can be taken on and off really easily without damaging delicate skin, they are lightweight, cover the shoulders, the merino is temperature regulating so Mum didn't get too hot or cold in them and they are the right length - no bulk behind her back to get crumpled and potentially cause pressure sores. As well as all that they look like daywear so she felt and looked more dignified. We have a range of fine merino wool garments and accessories which, with all the wonderful qualities, is perfect for easy, comfy and caring wearability, especially for delicate skin.
So, now you can see how sheep helped us prevent our mother from developing painful pressure sores. Aren't they clever?