As we age, taking care of our skin

If an elderly person is going to be outside, some precautions are necessary.

I have been suggesting, lately, that the summer is a good time for the elderly to get outside for greater levels of exercise and perhaps even take up gardening as a hobby.

While I stand by these suggestions as valid ways to improve overall health, I have to put one small caveat, or consideration into the mix. As we age, we have to pay more attention to our skin and to the effects of the sun on it. Thus, if an elderly person is going to be outside, some precautions are necessary.

The aging process is not particularly kind to our skin.  As the life-long battle between gravity and our body begins to favour gravity, things begin to droop. Our skin is no exception.

Dried by reductions in oil production, stretched by a loss of elasticity, or perhaps a loss of fatty tissue supporting it, and thinned by a slowing process of cell rejuvenation, our skin has a tendency to begin to resemble tissue paper more than the supple texture we had in our youth. Sure, there are cosmetic medical procedures that can be taken to lift the skin, but they are all temporary and not always as esthetically pleasing as we might wish.

One of the greatest enemies to healthy skin is excessive sun exposure, even more so when our skin has thinned and thus provides less protection from the harmful rays of the sun. It is important at any age to protect yourself from excessive sunlight, but even more important for the elderly. Sun screen, in combination with long sleeves and wide-brimmed hats, as well as good sunglasses that protect the eyes from UV rays, are essential preparations before venturing out on summer days. Even when the clouds are around, the power of the sun’s rays remain and protection is necessary.

It is also wise to wear protective clothing when working outside or in a garden. The loss of moisture and elasticity tends to make skin brittle, resulting in easily bruised or cut skin. Since the elderly tend to have somewhat compromised immune systems to begin with, exposure to the outdoor bacteria through cuts is not a great idea. A good set of gardening gloves and some firm material in the sleeves of clothing can help a great deal to reduce this concern.

Of course, good skin care requires frequent cleaning and plenty of hydration with simple lotions. It’s a good routine to gently bath problem skin areas and then moisturize them a couple of times a day, particularly before bedtime.  The softer and more moisturized the skin, the less risk of cuts and tears.

Finally, a visit to a doctor once a year, to have the skin examined for any unusual growths or changes, should be part of the health routines of everyone over the age of 40.

Our skin covers our bodies, but often serves as a window to issues that are going on internally. Keeping track of changes and acting on those of concern can often short-circuit issues simmering below the skin and avoid much bigger problems later.

 

• Graham Hookey writes about education, parenting and eldercare. ghookey@yahoo.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

.
SHARE: Stunning vistas of Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

City hall is asking for public input on its greenhouse gas reduction plans.
Maple Ridge wants citizen input on greenhouse gas targets

City hall to host an online webinar on Thursday

Pitt Meadows United Church has a new Expression Station, to create a record of people’s feelings during this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Special to The News)
Closed by COVID-19, Pitt Meadows church offers Expression Station

Say what you need to say in this pandemic time, offers United Church

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. (Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press)
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Feb. 28

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

On Monday, March 1, 2021, Maple Ridge is hosting an information session on Choose to Move, a fitness program for people 65 and older. (Maple Ridge image)
Maple Ridge seniors invited to information session on free fitness program

Learn about the program for those 65 and older on Monday, March 1

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Alina Durham, mother of Shaelene Bell, lights candles on behalf of Bell’s two sons during a vigil on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO and PHOTOS: Candlelight vigil for missing Chilliwack woman sends message of hope

Small group of family, friends gathered to shine light for 23-year-old mother Shaelene Bell

Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Most Read