Jan 11, 2019 by Travis M. Smith
Senior Skin Protection
There are obvious cosmetic benefits to taking good care of our skin. More importantly, good skincare plays a big role in our overall health, especially for seniors. Because of the natural changes that occur in skin as we age, the summer season can leave seniors even more vulnerable to its harmful effects. Chief among them are the impacts of being outdoors – the sun, the heat, and the environment.
Our skin has many important functions. It serves to protect us from the environment, helps us control our body temperature, fluid and electrolyte balance, and through its nerve receptors, allows us to feel sensations like touch, pain, and pressure.
Over time, skin changes occur due to genetic makeup, nutrition, environmental and other factors like smoking, but the greatest single factor is sun exposure. With aging, the outermost layer of our skin thins and the number of cells that contain pigment decrease. The skin’s strength and elasticity also decreases, blood vessels in the middle layer become fragile, and the subcutaneous fat layer that provides padding and insulation reduces. Age also changes our glands. They produce less oil as we age making it more difficult to keep skin moist and sweat glands produce less sweat making it harder to keep cool.
“Wrinkles and sagging skin are among the most visible signs of growing older, but there are other common effects of age-related skin deterioration that you see in seniors as well,” said Travis M. Smith, of Comfort Keepers® in Austin, Texas. “Aging skin appears more pale and translucent, is more fragile and tears easily, Smith added. Skin that has been exposed to the sun frequently and consistently produces a leathery, weather-beaten appearance and large pigmented spots called age spots, liver spots or lentigos, may also appear in sun-exposed areas. Older people bruise easily and may bleed under the skin, a condition known as senile purpura. The dwindling fat layer leaves senior skin at risk of injury and reduces his or her ability to maintain body temperature. The lack of natural insulation can cause hypothermia in air conditioning. Because seniors perspire less, it’s harder for them to keep cool and increases their risk for becoming overheated or developing heat stroke.
More than 90% of all older people have some type of skin disorder, too. Common difficulties include those caused by conditions such as blood vessel diseases like arteriosclerosis, diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, nutritional deficiencies, obesity, reactions to medications, and allergies to plants, or other substances to name a few. The most serious diseases directly related to sun exposure are skin cancers such as basal cell, squamous cell carcinoma, and the deadliest, melanoma which is much more likely to spread to other parts of the body when left untreated.
While the effects of aging can’t be reversed, maintaining proper care means having healthy skin and more importantly, healthy senior people. Here is some helpful advice on how to care for aging skin:
“Cook-outs, trips to the beach, a day at the pool, walks in the park, fishing at the lake, and other outdoor activities are all part of summertime traditions that everyone enjoys, especially seniors” Smith added. “Most do involve the potential to soak up the sun, so think ahead and anticipate your senior loved ones’ needs to protect his or her skin beforehand so you can assure that summer fun is worry-free.”
About Comfort Keepers
With over 750 locations worldwide, Comfort Keepers is a leader in in-home senior care to promote independent living. Services include companionship, meal preparation, light housekeeping, grocery shopping, incidental transportation, laundry, recreational activities, and personal care. Comfort Keepers of Austin, Texas offers FREE IN-HOME ASSESSMENTS and can be reached at (512) 766-0105.