As part of my responsibility as an elderly caretaker as well as a business owner of Time to Care, I make it my duty to find out the subtleties about my chosen profession. The more I educate myself and my workers, the better I can fulfill my mission of With Age Comes Respect.
Thank goodness for excellent source references such as those produced by The Mayo Clinic and their clinicians.
Everyday caregivers need to know how to deal with issues that are common and every day, but have not had the opportunity to experience for themselves yet.
One of those issues is thinning skin; skin that is so paper thin that something as simple as washing in the shower, or grazing against a cabinet door can lead to the skin tearing straight open. Band-Aids or gauze with tape are not much help because, they, too, can stick too much to fragile skin and pull it away from the bone.
My source was Dr. Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D. He is well aware of this common problem in aging adults. Depending on the individual, their age, their genetics, and how much sun they had previously been exposed to all tend to play a role in how thin their skin truly is. If you combine the fact that many people, as they are aging, begin taking medications to prolong their life, this can add to the weakened condition of the skin; especially if the medications result in the use of long-term oral or topical corticosteroids. Not only is the skin weakened, so too are the blood vessels. If the condition gets to a point that it is an issue, make certain to contact your elder’s medical professional.
In the meantime, Dr. Gibson made the following suggestions to protect thinning skin and avoid tears and cuts:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and wide-brimmed hats.
- Avoid prolonged sun exposure.
- If you must be outside in the sun, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Apply sunscreen generously, and reapply every two hours — or more often if you’re swimming or perspiring.
- Keep skin well moisturized and protected by using a quality moisturizing cream, such as Vanicream, Cetaphil or Eucerin.
- Talk to your doctor about treating skin with vitamin A (retinol) which may improve the skin’s ability to tolerate injuries.