The skin is the largest organ in the body, and as we age, it can show the most visible changes that our bodies go through. While maintaining healthy skin is important at every age, it is especially important in skin care over 60, as the skin starts to wear down with age.
November is National Healthy Skin Month, and it’s time to talk about elderly skin care. These skin care topics of interest can range from protecting and preventing skin cancer to how the skin ages and thins and creating a healthy skin care routine to use daily.
The Natural Occurrence of Thinning Skin
As skin grows older, it tends to lose elasticity and functions differently. Common skin concerns for mature skin include wrinkles, sagging skin, dry skin and age spots. In addition, natural wear on the skin includes the sun’s rays wearing down collagen and elastic fibers in the middle skin layer, known as the dermis, also known as “thinning skin.”
The thickness of men's skin is approximately 20% greater than that of women, primarily attributed to elevated levels of testosterone. While both men and women experience a decline in collagen production as they age, women undergo a more rapid loss, particularly following menopause. The decrease in estrogen during menopause contributes to a thinning of women's skin and collagen layers.
As elderly skin thins, it makes the small blood vessels near the surface more delicate, which can lead to easy bruising in the elderly. A minor impact on thinner skin can result in a bruise. As blood seeps from the vessels, it creates a bruise that appears black and blue, through shades of yellow, green and finally brown as it starts to fade. The mark disappears when the body reabsorbs the blood, with the healing process potentially taking longer as one ages.
You can reduce the risk of bruising on elderly skin by moisturizing, wearing long pants and sleeves to cover the skin, and avoiding certain medications such as steroids and blood thinners. Before stopping any medication, consult your doctor about bruising and seek their advice on how you can reduce your risk of bruises. If bruising does occur, utilize cold compresses first, and then apply warm compresses to motivate circulation in the skin.
Preventing Skin Cancer
In addition to the visual benefits of healthy skin, taking care of your skin is important to avoid skin cancer – the most diagnosed cancer in the United States but also the most preventable. According to the National Council on Aging, most skin cancer is diagnosed after age 65. Melanoma, which is the deadliest type of skin cancer, is commonly diagnosed between ages 65 and 74. It is estimated that less than half of all older adults wear daily sun protection or take no precautions, especially on sunny days.
Protecting your skin from powerful sun rays is very important throughout your lifetime, but daily sunscreen application is especially important as you age and important during all seasons of the year. Used daily in your younger years, daily sunscreen application is the key to prevent premature aging effects on your skin.
Here are some ways to reduce your risk of skin cancer and to keep youthful, radiant skin:
- Wear a daily sunscreen with at least a 30 SPF
- Utilize sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats while in the sun
- Avoid the sun during the peak daylight hours (10 am – 4 pm)
Create a Healthy Skin Care Routine
Building a healthy elderly skin care routine starts from within your body. Lifestyle factors and behaviors, along with genetics and daily habits, can help your skin age gracefully. Here are a few:
- Cleansing: Daily cleansing for the type of skin that you have.
- A balanced diet: What we eat directly affects our skin. At Anthology Senior Living communities, such as Anthology of Edmonds, our signature Entice Dining program caters to the nutritional needs of seniors and helps promote healthy habits.
- Hydration: Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated.
- Moisturizing: In addition to hydrating your body from the inside, make sure to moisturize to keep your skin soft and supple and less at risk for breaking open.
- Exercise: Even light exercise can promote circulation throughout the body. Exercise activities at Anthology of Novi include walks around the community and in outdoor areas to boost mood and Vitamin D through sunlight.
- Sleep routine: Getting enough sleep and sticking to an adequate sleep routine can help slow the effects of premature aging.
- Stress management: Doing your best to control your stress level can help prevent unsightly changes in your skin. Caregivers at Anthology of King of Prussia work to help ease the burden of stress through their amenities and weekly activity calendars to help promote wellness.
Skin Care Products to Use on Mature Skin
Daytime and nighttime routines with skin care products can help keep mature skin more radiant and youthful looking. Investing in elderly skin care products does not have to be overwhelmingly expensive – starting with a basic routine can be affordable. When looking for anti-aging skin care products, pay attention to ingredients that are made especially for mature skin.
Best treatments for 60-year-old skin and above include:
- Vitamin C: This mineral promotes collagen production
- Retinoids: This ingredient can maintain smoother skin and work to hide fine lines and wrinkles in the complexion
- Hyaluronic acid: Using this will help boost skin hydration from the outside in
- Peptides: Keep skin flexible and elastic, allowing it to look and feel plump and youthful
Remember, aging is a natural and inevitable process, and adopting a positive mindset can significantly contribute to aging gracefully. At Anthology Senior Living communities like Anthology of King of Prussia, Anthology of Novi, Anthology of Edmonds and Anthology of The Arboretum, resident life is surrounded by positive mindsets and activities such as exercise, socialization with others and more – working the mind, body and spirit are all a part of aging beautifully. As part of our Elements Life Enrichment program, both physical and cognitive needs are met through a robust calendar of activities.
While aging skin can often be met with a negative connotation about “getting old,” our skin tells the story of our lifetime – and it’s possible to age gracefully and beautifully by taking care of our skin throughout our lives. It’s never too late to start investing in your skin!