Years of exposure to the sun make seniors susceptible to melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer, and many family caregivers face difficulty helping their senior loved ones handle this disease. The following are common melanoma warning signs you and your loved one should be aware of. By identifying suspicious moles and lesions early, you can help your loved one address this disease.
1. A for Asymmetry
Most benign moles are symmetrical in shape. This means if you drew an imaginary line through the middle of the mole, the two sides would look virtually identical. Any mole that’s asymmetrical in shape should be examined by a doctor.
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2. B for Border
The edges of a mole often indicate if it’s malignant or benign. Early-stage melanomas typically have uneven borders, which may be notched or scalloped. A mole with a smooth, even border is most likely benign and not a cause for concern.
3. C for Color
Most benign moles are relatively uniform in color. In most cases, melanomas are different shades of brown, black, or tan. However, they can also appear blue, white, or red.
4. D for Diameter
Melanomas tend to be larger than benign moles. A doctor should assess any mole that’s larger than a pencil eraser. It’s also important to note that benign moles typically stay the same size, while melanomas often get larger with time.
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5. E for Evolution
Benign moles seldom change in appearance. Any change in the shape, size, color, or elevation of a mole is a warning sign that it may be cancerous. In addition, any mole that bleeds, itches, or becomes crusty should be evaluated.
How You Can Help Your Loved One Prevent Melanoma
The primary risk factor for melanoma is excessive sun exposure. The following steps can prevent further skin damage and ensure melanomas are caught in their early stages:
- Encourage your loved one to wear a high SPF sunscreen all year long. Most people think about sunscreen during the summer. However, the ultraviolet rays from the sun that cause skin cancer are present throughout the year.
- Help your loved one perform a head-to-toe skin exam on a monthly basis. This is especially important if your loved one has a history of excessive sun exposure. Be on the lookout for any mole that’s changed since the last check or appears substantially different from your loved one’s other moles.
- If your loved one is at risk for melanoma, encourage him or her to see a dermatologist once a year for a skin cancer screening.
Although melanoma is relatively common in aging adults, it’s not the only disease they’re susceptible to. Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of cognitive decline can be equally challenging for older adults. However, seniors can benefit from hiring professional caregivers. For trusted and reliable dementia care, Portland families can turn to Align Home Care Services. We are experts in caring for seniors with memory-related conditions, our caregivers are available 24/7, and all of our dementia care programs are backed with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If your senior loved one needs assistance with the challenges of aging, reach out to one of our knowledgeable, compassionate Care Managers today at (207) 835-3605.