This topic came to mind as I recall experiencing dry skin episodes with my mother. You may not know this, but the skin’s appearance can be signs of deeper problems. Actually, if we do not take care of our skin during our youth, it will tell on us as we age. Once our skin becomes fragile, caused by an array of problems, chemotherapy, medications, diabetes, and thyroid problems, to name a few, and the lack of skincare over the years can create problems in the wonder years.
What are some basics regarding our skin that should be front and center? Our skin is the largest organ of our body. Our skin is worn on the outside for all to see. The skin, usually soft and flexible, has three main functions: protection, regulation, and sensation. If any of these functions are interrupted, the maintenance of our body could be in jeopardy. So, when we speak about the skin of our elderly loved ones, what should we pay attention to? Let’s start with hydration. Without proper hydration, the skin will be dry and flaky. Medications can cause dry skin, like diuretics. Since fluid balance is critical in this instance, moisturizing lotions on the skin works wonders. Do your homework. All lotions and creams are not created equal.
Next, the skin color of your elderly loved one can scream help. Bluish skin (called cyanosis) can be a sign of numerous medical problems. Cyanosis is usually due to a lack of oxygen in the blood. This is profoundly serious, and medical attention is warranted. Sometimes, this occurs with cold temperatures, tight-fitting clothes, shoes, and jewelry, but internal organs are failing in other situations. This is a medical emergency! Cyanosis of the fingers, or lips, or anywhere, seek medical attention immediately!
The proactive tip of this blog is to pay attention to all of the skin of your loved one or care recipient. All caregivers should inspect the total body. During baths, this is a great time to get a good look. Skin problems, if caught early, can be addressed and managed with professional supervision. Do not be shy, peak, here, there, and everywhere. Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate is counting on you to be the SKIN police.