Managing Thin Skin in the Elderly
Skin care rules that apply when we’re young — such as using sunscreen and moisturizers and avoiding smoking — are just as important as we get older. However, senior skin care requires special attention because of the way our skin changes as it ages.
Over the years, our skin becomes thinner, more fragile, and the protective layer of fat that lies just below it begins to disappear, causing skin to bruise and tear more easily. Moreover, medications commonly used by older people, such as aspirin; topical and oral corticosteroids, such as prednisone; and anticoagulants such as Coumadin, Plavix, and Eliquis; also lead to thinning skin. In addition, chronic medical conditions common to seniors, such as diabetes and circulation problems, also result in fragile skin.
For seniors, weakened skin leads to a greater likelihood of skin tears, which can lead to complications such as infection.
The following senior skin care tips can help prevent thinning skin, a normal aspect of aging, from becoming a problem.
Create a Safe Environment
- Make sure there is adequate lighting in all areas.
- Cushion sharp corners and edges.
- Ensure walkways are wide and uncluttered.
- Remove tripping hazards, such as throw rugs.
Protect the Most Vulnerable Areas of the Body
- Most bruises and tears occur on the arms and lower legs, so it is wise to wear long sleeves and either long pants or knee-high socks.
- People who are especially prone to bruises and skin tears should wear shin guards and padded arm guards.
Treat Skin with Care
Senior skin is prone to dryness (xerosis), so it needs to be handled with care to keep it supple and to prevent itchiness (pruritus), both of which can lead to irritation and tearing. To keep skin properly hydrated:
- Take showers rather than baths, since baths are more dehydrating.
- When showering, use warm water rather than hot water.
- Use unscented, pH balanced soaps to minimize irritation.
- Pat, rather than wipe, skin dry after bathing.
- After bathing, while skin is still moist, apply a thick moisturizing cream. The Mayo Clinic recommends Vanicream, CeraVe or Cetaphil.
- When bandaging wounds, use paper tape bandages. These are often marked “for sensitive skin.”
With proper care, senior skin can still be healthy skin.
At Laurel Bay Health and Rehabilitation Center, in Keansburg, NJ, our residents receive the highest quality rehabilitative and skilled nursing care in a homelike and compassionate environment conducive to healing.
Our family-owned and -operated 123-bed facility, is tucked away in the quiet beach town of Keansburg, NJ at the Jersey Shore, within sight of Sandy Hook and the New York City skyline.
Our services include short-term rehab, long-term care, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, hospice care, and respite care for those times when the caretaker needs to be taken care of.
We proudly provide the following specialty healthcare services: complex medical care management, intravenous (IV) therapy, wound care, enteral feeding, pain management, oxygen therapy, tracheostomy care, a dedicated pulmonary program, hospice care with private suites, a stroke rehab program, respiratory support, eye care, dental care, podiatry care, and psychological consults and counseling.
We pride ourselves on healing the entire patient through a holistic and individualized approach.
Our meticulous care planning helps us ensure that each and every resident receives the best in clinical care, support and unconditional love.
For over 25 years, we have been a staple of health and wellness, serving the members of our community and partnering with our local hospitals like Bayshore Community Hospital in Holmdel, NJ and Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, NJ.
We provide a tailored program of physical, occupational and speech therapy, as well as all types of specialized care under one roof.
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