Skin is made up of three layers:
The hypodermis, the bottom layer of the skin, is composed of fat and collagen. The hypodermis regulates the body’s temperature, and acts as a shock absorber to protect the internal organs. Its fat is often used as an energy reserve.
The dermis, the middle layer of the skin, is the thickest of the three layers, and accounts for approximately 90% of the skin’s thickness. It contains most of the skin’s structures, including blood vessels, lymph vessels, hair follicles, sweat glands, oil glands, nerve endings, as well as collagen and elastin, which keeps the skin flexible and strong.
Like the hypodermis, it also functions to regulate temperature. It supplies the epidermis with nutrient-rich blood, and contains much of the body’s water supply.
The epidermis is the top layer of skin. It acts primarily as protection against dirt and bacteria.
Although changes in the skin are related to genetics, nutrition, and environmental factors, the most significant factor affecting skin is exposure to the sun.
The following 6 skin changes are results of the natural course of aging:
- As a person ages, the epidermis becomes thinner, and the number of pigment-containing cells in it decreases. For this reason, aging skin looks more thin and pale; it may even be translucent. Pigmented spots can appear in sun-exposed areas.
- Aging skin also loses its strength and elasticity. Once again, exposure to sun exacerbates this condition.
- As the blood vessels in the dermis become fragile with age, they break more easily. This leads to bruising and bleeding under the skin.
- The oil glands in the dermis decrease their production of oil. This starts after menopause in women, but much later in men. The decrease in natural oil can make skin dry and itchy.
- The fat layer in the hypodermis thins with age. This decreases the skin’s ability to act as a temperature regulator and shock absorber.
- Temperature regulation is also impaired by a decrease in sweat production by the sweat glands.
The thinning fat layer makes an older person more subject to hypothermia, a medical emergency that occurs when body temperature goes too low. The decrease in sweat production increases an older person’s risk of heat-related conditions, including heatstroke.
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.
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.
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.