Keeping the Elderly Safe & Comfortable as Temperatures Drop
Fall is a beautiful time of year and many of us love to spend these final sunny days outside before preparing for the chill of winter. As November rolls in, we take a closer look at skin protection with National Healthy Skin Month.
Our skin is our body’s largest organ, so it’s important to take good care of it. As we age, our skin changes. It becomes thinner, loses moisture, and becomes more delicate. These changes in our skin make us more susceptible to winter skin conditions. Cold air, low humidity, and winds can dry out skin and produce itching, cracking, bleeding, and other ailments.
The American Academy of Dermatology offers a few quick tips and reminders for keeping your skin soft and pain-free as winter approaches.
Staying hydrated is an often overlooked but common-sense recommendation. Dehydration can contribute to dry skin, making those always-advised eight glasses of water a day just as important as they are in the summer. Running the heat in our homes during the winter removes needed moisture from the air, which can lead to cracking and bleeding. A simple humidifier can add moisture to dry air and alleviate some winter skin issues.
To prevent cracks and dry spots, an emollient-rich hand cream can be kept bedside to slather on before sleeping. Elbows also may need some extra moisture in the drier air as we move indoors and will benefit from a richer oil-based cream. Cracked, bleeding skin is irritating at any age, but it can be dangerous for seniors. Even minor wounds can take a long time to heal and can lead to worse problems, even hospital admission. Preventing any wound from happening in the first place is critical.
Cleansing, of course, is important to protecting your skin. Keeping showers and baths to lower temperatures or shorter durations in the winter can reduce dryness and itching. Use of a mild cleanser and face and body moisturizers should be included in daily grooming routines. If you would like specific brand recommendations for yourself or a loved one in your care, your dermatologist or your local pharmacist can assist you with a suitable product.
The feet are an area that can benefit from some extra attention as they are back in thicker socks and closed shoes and boots. A good hygiene program of washing and drying the feet, especially in between the toes, can prevent chafing and irritation. Keeping toenails trimmed and wearing moisture-wicking socks made of natural fibers are also important steps in minimizing blisters, corns and foot pain.
Sunscreen also should not be overlooked in the winter, as snow and ice can cause glare, multiplying the harmful effects of UV rays that damages skin.
While some skin conditions are more of a nuisance, others can be very serious. As always, if you notice anything suspicious, be sure to see a board-certified dermatologist for a full evaluation.
As winter and cold weather draw ever nearer, it’s important to remind your senior patients and clients of these helpful little changes needed to stay safe and healthy all winter long.
If there’s a senior or family in your life that needs help, please Oasis Senior Advisors a call.