As seniors age, the skin becomes thinner, drier, and more delicate. It loses its elasticity, and blood vessels are less likely to provide moisture and nutrients. As a result, the skin tears easily. However, there are several ways to prevent skin tears and methods to help wounds heal when they occur.
1. Upgrade Environmental Safety
Even bumping into something may cause a skin tear. Ensure the interior of your loved one’s home has sufficient lighting to prevent mishaps caused by tripping and falling. Remove clutter from pathways and eliminate throw rugs unless they can be securely adhered in place. Pad armchairs, bed rails, wheelchairs, and other furnishings with sharp corners, and install grab bars in bathrooms.
2. Serve Healthy Foods & Promote Hydration
Eating the right foods and staying hydrated throughout the day help skin retain moisture. Increase your loved one’s daily servings of fruits and vegetables. Spinach and tomatoes are especially high in nutrients and fluid content. Consider serving fatty fish up to three times a week and using olive oil during food preparation. The oil in nuts is ideal for healthier skin. Avoid serving too many caffeinated beverages because caffeine has dehydrating effects. Instead, your loved one should drink water, green tea, or other healthy fluids throughout the day.
Busy family caregivers cannot find time to shop for nutritious foods should think about enlisting the support of a professional caregiver. Some seniors need occasional assistance at home, and oftentimes the family members who take care of them need time away to run errands, take a nap, go to work, or take a vacation. Clearwater respite care experts from Home Care Assistance are available on an as-needed basis, giving your family peace of mind that your loved one will remain safe and comfortable while you relax or focus on other important responsibilities.
3. Use Moisturizers
Apply a moisturizer to your loved one’s skin in the morning, after bath time, and at night before bed. In addition to absorbing into the skin and adding moisture, many products also create a surface barrier to lock in existing moisture. Avoid soaps and bath gels that tend to dry the skin. Your loved one should also wear a protective sunscreen outdoors. If the skin is particularly dry, try moisturizing the area and wrapping it in plastic wrap during the night.
4. Purchase Protective Clothing
Wearing long sleeves, slacks, or hose adds a protective layer to fragile skin. Be careful when dressing or undressing your loved one when he or she is wearing clothing with buttons or zippers. These fasteners might accidentally grab and tear the skin.
If your loved one has mobility issues that affect the ability to get dressed or perform other everyday tasks, a professional caregiver can be a welcome resource. When considering home care, Clearwater, families should make sure their senior loved ones have the resources they need to maintain their independence and remain healthy. Trusted in-home care professionals can assist seniors with daily tasks like cooking, bathing, and exercise, and they can also encourage them to focus on healthier lifestyle habits.
5. Be Careful When Treating Skin Tears
The type of treatment needed depends on the severity of the skin tear. If the wound is actively bleeding, apply direct pressure until it stops. Rinse the area with tap water or saline solution. Let the wound air dry or gently pat the area. If the skin flap is still attached, use a moistened cotton swab to roll the skin back into place. Small tears may then be held together using steri-strips. Larger tears or those that involve complete skin removal need a protective dressing to prevent infection. Recommended products include petroleum jelly, gauze, and Tegaderm. Transparent dressings enable you to see the healing process without traumatizing the area further by constantly changing the dressing. Opaque dressings need changing every three days. When removing the dressing, gently pull it in the direction of the skin flap to avoid reinjuring the wound. If the area becomes red, swollen, or painful to the touch, consult with your loved one’s healthcare provider, as these symptoms indicate a possible infection.
Skin tears can be especially problematic for seniors, who may be more susceptible to infections because of diminished immune function. There are a variety of age-related health conditions that can make it more challenging for seniors to live independently. However, many of the challenges they face can be easier to manage if their families opt for professional in-home care. Clearwater families can rely on expertly trained caregivers to keep their loved ones safe and comfortable while aging in place. To learn more about our reliable, compassionate in-home care services, contact Home Care Assistance at (727) 330-7862 today.