Caring nurse talks with senior female patient

How to Help Seniors Prevent Common Problems with Complex Wounds

The population of the United States is shifting toward a growing elderly population with an estimated 75 million baby boomers moving into the geriatric population over the next 20 years. As the senior population increases, there is a growing focus on chronic illnesses and the care required to treat them. Chronic and complex wounds can greatly impact quality of life and the estimated cost of care for these conditions in the US today is more than $25 billion.

Many times, this condition is due to changes in daily functioning or to common diseases associated with aging. Managing complex wounds is a difficult undertaking that requires support, information and, often times, an experienced care team. Whether you are working with an experienced team, like the one at Carlinville Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, or you are independently caring for an elderly adult on your own, it is important to understand your options.

Common Problems with Complex Wounds

Early identification and detailed treatment plans are often the best ways to combat chronic wounds. If your loved one is in a community experienced in complex wound care, like Carlinville Rehabilitation, the complex wound care nursing team can explain what to look for and how to respond to risk factors.

Without the right support and medical care, there are many common problems with complex wounds that can lead to more serious conditions. Here are a few examples of serious wounds and the problems that arise:

Severe Burns or Skin Loss

Large areas of damaged skin are more difficult to treat than small areas. This type of injury brings an increased risk of infection and often requires systemic antibiotics and hospitalization. However, early excision of burn wounds minimizes the risk of mortality and reduces the risk of infection.

Comorbidities and Chronicity

Other pathological factors must be at play for chronic wounds to form. Underlying diseases and external factors can also play a role. Chronicity can come from many sources, such as:

  • Changes in moisture or temperature
  • Medications
  • Metabolic diseases, like diabetes
  • Diseases that impact blood supply, such as peripheral vascular disease
  • Prior tissue injury
  • Diseases that impact the immune system


One of the most common and challenging problems managing complex wounds is infection. While bacteria are a part of the skin’s normal condition, and are even needed to maintain overall health, the wrong types, or too much bacteria, can cause infection. The presence of infection is dangerous because it interrupts the process of healing. Conditions like malnutrition, edema, venous insufficiency and diabetes can increase the risk of infection.

The Four Phases of Wound Healing

Once a wound is labeled as chronic or complex, the stages of healing follow a specific order. Those stages are:

  1. Hemostasis Phase. Hemostasis begins when blood leaks out of the body and the blood vessels constrict to limit the blood flow. This phase ends when coagulation occurs and the wound is bound by platelets and threads of fibrin.
  2. Inflammatory Phase. The second stage begins after the injury when the blood vessels leak transudate, which causes swelling. This fluid engorgement allows the cells the repair the site of the wound and damaged cells and pathogens are removed from the wound area.
  3. Proliferative Phase. This phase occurs when the wound is rebuilt with new tissue. During the proliferative phase, the wound begins to contract because new tissues are being built.
  4. Maturation Phase. The fourth phase of the four phases of wound healing is often called the remodeling phase. This usually begins around 21 days after the injury and can last for over a year.

The actual progression through the four phases of wound healing is completely dependent on the individual patient and their specific condition; sometimes wound care can progress backwards, while at other times healing is more rapid than expected.

Complex Wound Care Nursing

Taking a comprehensive approach to wound care includes working with an experienced, multidisciplinary team. Our team at Carlinville Rehabilitation and Health Care Center understands the need to include social support systems, nutritional planning and rehabilitation options in caring for patients with complex wounds. In addition to advanced wound care, Carlinville Rehabilitation offers skilled nursing care in the areas of:

  • 24-hour skilled nursing care
  • Pain management
  • Extensive rehabilitation
  • Respite care
  • Nutrition management
  • Stroke rehabilitation
  • Restorative nursing
  • Physical, occupational and speech therapy
  • IV therapy
  • Pulmonary care
  • Tracheostomy care
  • Infectious disease care
  • Community re-entry program
  • Complex disease management
  • Post-surgical treatment

Contact Carlinville Rehabilitation today and schedule a tour to learn more about our community and our services. We look forward to answering your questions!