The Eldercare Monologues

From The Beginning of the Middle

From The Beginning of the Middle


As they age, you begin to see the emergence of “age spots,” large dark discolorations on the skin – they appear in abundance on the arms, hands, and also on the chest, legs and back to a lesser degree – but more and more as advancing age takes place.  They appear on the face to a lesser degree.  Both of them asked me to buy flesh colored cover-stick makeup to apply over the spots on the face and neck, especially my Dad.  Eventually Marilou accepted that there was just too much discoloration to try to cover and she accepted her aging more.   They don’t like to see the shocking appearance of dark blotches in the mirror.

I bought a bunch of stuff for wound care to keep on hand – gauze, tape, bandages, Neosporin, large bandages, etc.  I also found this great product, tubular elastic retention netting. This stuff is great!  It holds gauze pads over cuts and abrasions so you don’t have to use tons of tape (which is no fun on their old, papery skin — high tack tape can even tear their skin when its taken off).  I also use it on Marilou’s forearm to protect her skin from her wristwatch (which she loves – it’s an oldie with a metal springy band.   I also keep a lot of moisturizer of several types around.  I apply it liberally to Marilou’s back at bedtime a couple nights a week (and used to do this for Mort, too).


Mort and Marilou were both redheads in the generation prior to sunblock lotion’s invention, so they sunburned a lot as kids.  Later in life, skin cancers began to emerge like clockwork.  They dutifully visited dermatologists in Florida, and I kept up with those regular appointments in California.  Some of their cancers required “Mohs” surgery (an out-patient surgical procedure where the top layer of the skin is carved off and the patches of skin sent to the lab while they wait in the chair – the patches are analyzed for cancer cells and the edges should be cancer-free, of the doctor comes in and carves away some more until he/she has gotten all the exposed cancer on the surface of the skin.  The doctor then stitches up the wound and those areas heal slowly, and  I was watchful to make sure that no infections appeared on them. Smaller cancers can be treated with liquid nitrogen and burned off, causing little scars to appear, which fall off.

Vaseline was recommended as the best thing to put on their old, thin skin.  I liked to apply gobs of it and did so for both of them.  I didn’t count on them doing it themselves, but over time, they got better about it.  Its greasy and they don’t like their favorite clothes to have to be put in the laundry so quickly, but I insisted for the health of their skin.  I also made sure to change their sheets more often than I might have if they weren’t old redheads with thin dry skin that required a lot of Vaseline.  All other lotions are not that helpful, but they liked them better, so I made sure they always had what they liked in their bathroom.