Why Skin Takes Longer to Heal in the Elderly

Skin care an essential component of healthcare in the elderly. The skin is the largest organ of the body, and it keeps all the other organs safe from injury. As we age, our skin ages as well. While in one’s forties, one may fret over their first wrinkle, there are far more serious issues when treating elderly skin. Thinning skin, decreased circulation, and diminished immune function leave seniors vulnerable to nonhealing wounds and skin infections.

Seniors are also more likely to have conditions that endanger the skin. Diabetes, which affects an astonishing 25% of seniors, is associated with nonhealing foot sores. This issue so serious it is the leading cause of lower leg amputation in the US. Hypothyroidism, another condition that is common in the elderly, can also lead to skin problems. If a senior is bedridden, or even if they are resistant to moving and remain sedentary most of the time, skin issues are exacerbated. Friction and constant pressure can cause bedsores, which are difficult to treat.

In addition to these conditions, the following 4 issues can prevent skin from healing after a wound, decreasing senior’s quality of life:

1. Poor Diet

A diet that is lacking essential nutrients, particularly protein, vitamin C, and zinc, will cause wounds to heal more slowly, or even worsen.

2. Dead Skin

Dead skin surrounds a wound, known as necrosis, can interfere with the body’s ability to heal the wound.

3. Infection

An open wound is subject to bacterial infection. In that situation, the immune system turns to fighting the infection rather than healing the wound.

4. Moisture

In order to heal, a wound needs a certain level of moisture. Too little or too much moisture impair healing. Proper wound care requires frequent changing and monitoring of dressings and bandages.

Beacon of LIFE, in Oceanport, NJ, is a government-approved PACE program created to provide seniors, their family, caregivers and professional health care providers the flexibility to meet their health care needs while continuing to live in their community.

We understand the seriousness of wound care for our residents, and are able to monitor their skin closely because we see our clients every day.

Beacon of LIFE maintains an interdisciplinary team of professionals who give each client the coordinated care they need. Our staff specialize in working with older people, and work with each client and their family to develop the most effective plan of care.

We provide a variety of services, including primary care, hospital care, medical specialty services, prescription drugs, nursing home care, emergency services, home care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, adult day care, recreational therapy, meals, dentistry, nutritional counseling, social services, laboratory / X-ray services, social work counseling, and transportation.

Our care and services allow people who would otherwise need to live in a nursing home to live where they want — in their own communities, in their own homes.

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