Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate: Dr. Cynthia Speaks!

Caregivers: Elderly Skin Care is Vital…Pay Attention!

As we get older, so does our skin. The skin, also called the epidermis, is the outermost layer of the body. We think in detail about our skin when we are young and self-sufficient. However, as a caregiver and responsible for the care of others, we must think about detailed skin care practices in the elderly. It requires daily observation, regardless of where the caregiving is being provided. This is profoundly important especially, if the care recipient sits for long time periods or is bedridden. As the largest organ of the human system, if not accurately assessed, real problems can materialize. Our skin helps to regulate body temperature. It is our sensory alert system from the environment and protection for the body from disease.

Taking care of our protective covering is necessary and more so, as we age. Skin that becomes red, dry, itchy, scaly, blotched, moles, greasy, discolored, extra thin or loose(inelastic) should be assessed. If the care recipient has a chronic condition that could impact skin health (i.e., diabetes, renal disease, taking water bills), it is vital to do daily skin assessments. Also keep in mind environmental and climate factors can trigger skin problems and changes.

Did you know your skin’s appearance can tell if someone is a smoker (this nugget is free)?

Weather, soaps, or lotions that are used may be the cause of any of these conditions. If you ever have questions or concerns regarding any skin problem, consulting a dermatologist to diagnose and treat skin conditions is your proactive responsibility.

As a caregiver, your role is to pay attention to the skin of your loved one. Start at the head and finish under the bottom of the feet. Look under every flap. Look between fingers and toes. Look behind ears, in ears, on the nose, up the nose and pay attention to the eye lids. Finally, open all close splits (get my drift…LOL). Paying attention to our body regulator and our sensory alert system can ward off potential problems. No matter the situations, skin care is a part of the caregiving journey. Pay Attention!

Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman is author and speaker. Her book: From the Lens of Daughter, Nurse, and Caregiver: A Journey of Duty and Honor shares caregiving tips.

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