The Importance of Skin Care for Senior Living Residents

January 3, 2018

Skin is considered to be the largest organ in the human body and has many functions that keep us safe. It provides us with sensory information about our environment, notifies us of injuries sustained, protects us from infections, and retains moisture necessary for adequate bodily function.

Yet, as we grow older, the skin’s ability to perform these vital functions diminishes. Beneath the topmost epidermal layer, the insulating fat and the blood vessels that provide the skin with oxygen eventually disappear. This causes the skin to wrinkle, thin, and weaken.

 

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The winter months usually bring with them drier air conditions that result in drier skin for everyone, but this effect can be particularly troublesome for seniors. The lack of humidity means sensitive skin is at an even greater risk for dryness that can cause persistent itching, discomfort and even breakage that can lead to serious health complications.

Discomfort from Itching Can be Damaging

Dry skin can be a nuisance for seniors in assisted living communities, detracting from their overall happiness. Skin that is itchy throughout the day and prone to flaking or breaking can cause stress, anxiety, and depression. It can become difficult for seniors to avoid scratching their dry skin, especially for those who remain primarily stationary, because continual itching can distract them as they rest. Itching can also be problematic for seniors with cognitive impairments who may have forgotten it’s unwise to overscratch.

Itching can detract from the everyday lives of many seniors. Clothes can be a source of discomfort, and activities that were once enjoyable, like exercising, playing board games, or spending time with grandchildren, may no longer be fun if seniors have difficulty focusing on anything other than their dry skin irritation.

Other Skin-Related Issues Seniors Face

Once the skin is broken, either from itching or a lack of adequate moisturizing, wounds heal more slowly and can potentially become infected. Dry skin caused by winter weather may exacerbate the onset of skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis. Seniors with diabetes who have dry skin are also at increased risk of experiencing ulcers.

If unnoticed and untreated, these may cause more serious issues and even hospitalization, so it’s important that seniors, healthcare professionals, and even family members of assisted living residents are aware of how important healthy skin is during the winter.

Skincare Measures

There are a variety of ways seniors can keep their skin healthy and prevent dryness from occurring.

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