But taking care of your skin is extra important as we age. The skin is the body’s largest organ and its essential “armor.” To maintain good health, skin needs extra attention as dryness and wrinkles set in.
A Little Biology of the Skin
The skin has 3 layers. Working together, these layers act as the body’s shield by preventing bacteria and viruses from:
- getting into the body and keeping body fluids from evaporating out;
- insulation by preserving body temperature through fatty padding, sweat glands, and pores;
- sensor by protecting us from harm through nerve endings that signal when things are too hot, too sharp, etc.
In the normal aging process, skin:
- tightens and thins, becoming more fragile, drier, itchy, and subject to tearing;
- loses fat, which increases bruising. The absence of a fatty layer also makes it harder to maintain body temperature and affects absorption of some drugs;
- becomes less sensitive to heat/cold, pressure, and other warning signs of potential injury;
- repairs more slowly and depends more than ever on good nutrition for healing.
Cleanse, Moisturize and Protect
Daily routines are important in the care of aging skin. Help your loved ones take better care of their “body armor” by:
- staying hydrated
- maintaining good nutrition
- using moisturizers
- bathing only as necessary
- avoiding cuts or scrapes
- preventing sunburn
Lois Young-Tulin, PhD, is an Assistant Geriatric Care Manager at Complete Care Strategies