How to Protect Your Senior from Skin Cancer
As the days get hotter and the sun’s rays grow more intense, skin cancer is a real risk to your senior’s health.
However, when identified early on, skin cancer is highly treatable. By identifying it quickly, you can help them stay happy, healthy, and safe at home for years to come. But before you can spot it, you have to know what skin cancer is, what it looks like, and who is at risk.
What is skin cancer?
Skin cancer is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells that manifests itself as an observable change in the skin. It can appear anywhere but is most likely to pop up in areas that are consistently exposed to sunlight, such as the face, neck, and arms. There are three main types of skin cancer, including…
- Basal Cell Carcinoma
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Basal and Squamous Cell Carcinoma are common among people who regularly spend any amount of time in the sun. They are unlikely to spread to other parts of the body and have a high cure rate when addressed immediately. So keep your eyes peeled! Melanoma, however, is much more serious and has the potential to spread to lymph nodes and metastasize to distant organs. Check out these pro tips from the American Cancer Society on how to prevent melanoma in particular.
What does skin cancer look like?
It often appears on the face but can appear anywhere on the body. These visible skin changes do not go away and should be reported to your doctor right away. When checking to see if your senior has developed any problematic skin changes, look for these symptoms:
- New growths or sores that don’t heal
- Small, smooth, shiny, pale, or waxy lumps
- Firm red lumps that bleed or crust
- Flat, red, dry, scaly spots
Whether you see multiple such symptoms or just one concerning area, call your healthcare provider immediately. If your senior has a previous diagnosis, be especially diligent in checking for symptoms of new skin cancer and make sure that your senior is undergoing regular examinations.
Who is at risk for skin cancer?
People who regularly spend time in the sun (or used to) are particularly at risk for developing skin cancer, especially if protective measures are not taken. However, your senior can still be at risk even if they do not currently spend much time outside, as the sun’s damaging effects begin early in life.
People with light-colored eyes, red or blond hair, and/or fair skin that freckles easily are most at risk and should take the most care in protecting themselves. If your senior lives in areas with high levels of UV radiation from the sun (including popular retirement destinations like Florida), they are significantly at risk, even if they don’t spend time outside.
How can I help my senior prevent skin cancer?
The first steps are knowing what skin cancer is (check!), knowing how to spot it (check!) and knowing who is most at risk (cha-check!). Beyond this, there are three easy steps you can take to help protect your senior:
- Routinely check their skin for any irregularities and report them to a doctor immediately.
- Encourage your senior to wear protective clothing and high-SPF sunscreen.
- Discourage your senior from using sunlamps or tanning booths.
When you bring knowledge, watchful care, and proactive encouragement to the mix, you can help your senior prevent and treat skin cancer. With your close attention and help, you can help your loved one live a longer, happier life.
What if I need help looking out for my senior?
As your senior ages, your attentive gaze can be the difference between a resolved issue and an exacerbated, debilitating condition. If you are your senior’s primary caregiver and are in need of another set of gentle hands and watchful eyes, A Care Connection offers the best respite care and compassionate, private care in the city of Jacksonville. (If you don’t believe us, check out our Medicare Star Ratings!) Our Registered Nurses are available to provide a complimentary assessment of your senior’s needs. To schedule a consultation or get more information, call us at (904) 899-5520.