Edema is a relatively common health condition in seniors. In this article, we’ll define the term “edema” and explain how it relates to nursing home abuse.
Edema is swelling caused by fluid trapped in the body’s tissues. It occurs most often in the feet, ankles, and legs, but can also affect other body parts such as the face, hands, and abdomen. Anybody can get edema but it is most common in pregnant people and adults 65 years of age or older.
Edema is graded on a severity scale from Grade 1 to Grade 4. Healthcare providers can test an area of the body for edema by performing a pitting test. This requires gently pressing a finger onto the swollen area for 15 seconds and then releasing. The dimple that appears in the skin indicates fluid build-up. Edema is graded on how quickly the dimple goes back to normal after the test. The grades are defined as follows:
The signs and symptoms of edema include:
Edema is relatively common because it has many possible causes. Among these are:
Treatments for edema vary depending on the cause. For example, healthcare providers may recommend the patient quit smoking, cut back on alcohol, eat a healthier diet, lose weight, or stop using a certain medication.
To treat the fluid buildup, patients can:
Older people are at a greater risk for edema because they typically have lower levels of activity, increased incidence of chronic health conditions, and higher intake of medications. Nursing home staff members have a duty to be aware of the risk of edema. They should take all possible steps to prevent patients from developing edema, such as giving them the necessary activity, and to treat edema should they notice it happening. Untreated edema can lead to complications, including:
When a nursing home staff member’s neglect causes a patient to develop edema and/or any of its complications, it may be considered nursing home abuse. If you or a loved one experienced edema as a result of a nursing home caregiver’s negligent conduct, you may be eligible for compensation. It is recommended that you alert the proper authorities and consult with a nursing home abuse attorney to learn about your options.