As our elderly parents enter retirement homes and eventually gravitate to assisted living, it’s important for us to understand some of the changes that occur to their bodies during this stage of their lives. As oxidative stress increases with age they begin to lose the ability to detoxify the harmful effects of free radicals. It becomes increasingly important to ensure our loved ones are provided the best nutrients possible to help give them the highest quality of life.
CHANGES TO THE SKINAccording to the American Academy of Dermatology, as we age we begin to lose structural skin fibers that help strengthen and protect the skin. Cuts and bruises take longer to heal. The skin becomes frail and can easily break. This can pose a health risk since our loved ones are far more exposed to illnesses and infections.
ENTERING THE NURSING HOME
When my mother (now 93) entered an assisted living facility I discovered major changes happening to her skin. She became extremely dehydrated, with chapped lips and thin skin so dry it became red with irritation. As someone who for years consumed a steady diet of supplements and vitamins while living in her own home, I knew these changes were the result of far more than aging alone.
As I would discover, her skin was being robbed of natural oils through environmental changes and by becoming exposed to petroleum-based products (most homes have little to no natural products) that offer no nourishment for the skin. She was also becoming far less mobile, limiting her blood flow and joint movement. When things aren't "moving" within the body the skin becomes dehydrated as a result.
THE POWER OF COCONUT OIL
There's no denying the fact that coconut oil is all the rage these days. it's a natural emollient and it's loaded with antioxidants that have been proven to help reduce oxidative stress. With this in mind, I asked the nursing staff to make a simple switch and use organic coconut oil (which I provided) instead of the "standard" body lotion when they massage her legs and arms each day. They also began applying it to her dry lips when needed.
Within only a week they were amazed at the difference it made to my mother's skin! I saw major improvements in her skin's hydration, less irritation and red spots almost completely gone. Since then the staff have embraced coconut oil and are "true believers" in its ability to heal and protect skin.
Most staff in assisted living homes are eager to do what is best for the resident and will take the time to sit down and discuss your concerns. They understand that you know your loved one better than anyone and are happy to receive your suggestions. My advice is to not be afraid of becoming involved with their care plan, and find simple ways of introducing natural and clean products like coconut oil into their daily routines...you’ll notice a huge difference!