As people age, their skin can lose its protective lipid layer, which can increase the risk of bruising, skin breakdown, sun damage, itching, and dryness. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help your senior loved one prevent these issues. The El Cajon in-home care experts from Coast Care Partners offer these tips for taking care of your elderly loved one’s skin.
1. Keep Your Parent Hydrated
Encouraging your parent to drink plenty of water to ensure optimal hydration is one of the most important things you can do to maintain his or her skin quality. Avoiding dehydration by drinking water keeps the skin from drying and prevents “winter itch.” Some seniors experience severe dry and itchy skin during the winter months, when the weather is cold and dry. While maintaining optimal fluid intake is important, make sure your loved one avoids too much caffeine because it can cause dehydration and dry skin.
Using a hypoallergenic, fragrance-free moisturizer can keep your loved one’s skin soft and supple. It may also add a protective layer over the epidermis so the skin doesn’t get as irritated when it comes into contact with soap, pet dander, cleaning chemicals, or rough fabrics.
3. Change Positions
If your parent has issues with mobility, make sure you help him or her change positions every couple of hours to relieve pressure off bony areas of the body. If allowed to stay in the same position for too long, your loved one may develop skin breakdown on the sacrum, hips, or heels. During position changes, take the time to gently massage the body’s bony areas to promote circulation and blood flow, which keeps the skin from breaking down and lowers the risk of decubitus ulcers.
4. Clean the Skin After Incontinence Episodes
Urine and stool can be irritating to an older person’s skin. If your parent has episodes of incontinence, make sure to clean the perianal area as soon as possible, and apply a protective barrier cream to the area to prevent skin excoriation and keep your parent more comfortable. Effective barrier creams contain zinc oxide, which is a popular ingredient in diaper rash ointment. Zinc oxide ointments can also be used on adult skin, and in addition to providing a barrier against urine and stool, they can heal irritated skin.
5. Protect Against Sun Damage
Another way to care for your parent’s skin is by always applying sunscreen when going outdoors, even on overcast days. In addition to sunscreen, a sun hat offers protection against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. As people age, they may be more susceptible to skin issues associated with sun exposure, including basal cell carcinoma, sunburn, and solar keratosis. If you notice any unusual discolorations, moles, lesions, or sores on your loved one’s skin, make an appointment with a dermatologist to evaluate the area and determine if treatment if necessary.
For seniors especially, the best method of treating skin problems is to prevent them. Following the tips listed above can help your loved one avoid many of the skin conditions associated with aging. If your loved one needs help practicing healthy habits that prevent skin issues, a professional caregiver can be a wonderful source of support by providing compassionate home care. El Cajon families can rely on the highly trained, experienced professionals from Coast Care Partners to help their loved ones exercise, eat nutritious meals, and focus on other healthy lifestyle factors. Reach out to us today at 619-354-2544 to learn more about our high-quality home care services for older adults.