Our skin is the largest organ on our body. It protects us from a host of “invaders” and helps to regulate our body temperature. Wrinkles and age spots are some common skin changes we might notice as we get older. However, there are much more serious hazards for our skin that increase as we age.
It’s especially important for seniors to protect their skin!
Following are three issues that can be especially dangerous or troublesome for seniors, along with advice for mitigating those risks:
1. Dry Skin
As we age, we lose oil and sweat glands that help keep our skin moist and supple. Dry, scaly, itchy skin results. When seniors cannot resist the urge to itch, dry skin can also lead to dangerous skin infections.
To stave off dry skin and protect fragile senior skin, try these simple tips with your senior loved one:
- Moisturize every day; preferably multiple times per day. A good rule of thumb is to moisturize every time he or she washes their hands.
- Use gentle soaps that include moisturizers and natural oils that replenish the skin. Look for soaps that are specifically labeled “gentle” or “for sensitive skin.”
- Avoid excessively hot water for showers, baths, and when washing hands, as higher temperatures can be particularly harsh on skin.
- Stay hydrated throughout the day.
2. Type 2 Diabetes
More than 25% of seniors over the age of 65 suffer from diabetes. Type 2 diabetes affects the body’s ability to heal and regenerate, which can lead to slow-healing cuts and bruises. More dangerously, seniors with type 2 diabetes are at an increased risk of dangerous skin infections and other skin complications.
These tips can help manage or even prevent type 2 diabetes (be sure to talk to your loved one’s doctor if you’re concerned about type 2 diabetes):
- Be active. Regular exercise is critical to prevent (or help manage) type 2 diabetes. Even just a daily walk is enough to make a profound difference.
- Carefully manage diet. Diet plays an important role in the development and management of type 2 diabetes. Talk to your loved one’s healthcare provider to determine specific dietary recommendations.
- Stop smoking. This advice rings true for every senior. By now, you’re well aware of the health risks and complications associated with smoking. Unfortunately, these risks include type 2 diabetes. If your loved one hasn’t given up the habit, now is the time!
Skin cancer disproportionately affects seniors who have spent their lives out in the sun, and the effects are cumulative. In many cases, it takes decades for skin cancer to develop. When it does, the mortality rate for melanoma in seniors is alarmingly high.
When caught early, many forms of melanoma are highly treatable. Keep these tips in mind:
- Wear sunscreen. Although any past damage is done, it’s important to wear sunscreen whenever your senior loved one is outside. Aim for an SPF of 30 or higher. Reapply every two hours, or more frequently if the skin becomes wet.
- Visit a dermatologist. Everyone should have a full-body check from a dermatologist at least once per year (check with your loved one’s doctor for specific recommendations).
- Know the signs. Seniors should conduct regular skin checks between doctor appointments, looking for the ABCDEs:
- Asymmetrical: One part of the mole is different than the other.
- Border: Moles with a border that is strangely shaped.
- Color: Moles with color variances.
- Diameter: Moles that are larger than 6 millimeters in size.
- Evolving: A mole that changes over time, or is different than other, nearby moles.
Keep your senior loved ones safe and healthy.
At Magnolia Manor, we are committed to caring for our residents’ physical, mental, spiritual, and social needs. Contact us at 1-855-540-LIFE(5433) to learn more about options at our eight campuses across southern Georgia.