It is only natural that as a person ages, the body begins to change. One common physical change for elderly persons is the loss of hair. Not everyone loses their hair. For those who do, however, especially for women, the loss of hair can be emotional. As a caregiver to someone who loses his or her hair, it is important to understand what causes hair loss and the effect it may have on your loved one.
Hair loss in Elderly Women and Men
Although hair loss affects everyone differently, it is something that is common to both women and men.
As a person ages, the growth rate of hair decreases. This happens because the follicles simply do not allow hair to grow as quickly. About 80% of men in their 60s have some substantial balding or thinning hair. Although elderly women are also affected, particularly after menopause, hair loss in women is not nearly as dramatic as in men.
Although genetics plays a major role in determining who is affected by hair loss, there are a variety of factors that may lead to hair loss for an elderly adult, including disease or other health conditions, or even certain medications. However, there also are many treatments available for those suffering with hair loss.
What Causes Hair Loss?
There are many factors that cause seniors to lose their hair. Here are a few common causes:
1. Androgenic Alopecia
The most common cause of hair loss for seniors is androgenic alopecia (balding). Balding usually begins after the age of 40 and is usually hereditary and not the result of medications or disease. Balding can be treated at the early stage with hair products designed especially for balding. Once balding reaches the later stage, professional treatment is required. This could include:
• Corticosteroid injections
• Anti-inflammatory injections
Hyperthyroidism is a medical condition that results from the inability of the senior’s thyroid to regulate hormones. This condition may cause thinning hair or large and rapid losses of hair. It can be treated with prescription medication, which can reverse the hair loss.
Diabetes and related stress can cause hair to stop growing or can cause hair loss. Diabetes-related hair loss is usually because of hormonal imbalances resulting from the disease. Hair loss may improve in seniors when the diabetes is treated effectively and with proper diet.
4. Poor nutrition
Poor diet also may cause hair loss. This usually occurs with seniors because of nutrient deficiencies, which can cause the hair shafts to weaken, break, and grow back more slowly. Specific nutrients that are important for hair growth include:
• Vitamin A
• B Vitamins (B6 and B12)
• Vitamin C
Foods that are good sources of these nutrients are foods that are rich in lean protein, like:
As seniors become more susceptible to disease and require more medications, they may experience more hair loss because of the medication they need to treat their illnesses. According to the American Hair Loss Association, these may include:
• Blood thinners
• Heart condition medications
• Gout medications
• Chemotherapy medications that target cell production
• High doses of Vitamin A
Hair loss is also the result of untreated anemia, for which seniors may need to take prescription medications.
Seniors who experience hair loss should consult a doctor to determine its accurate cause. Significant and rapid hair loss may be an indicator of a more serious condition. Caregivers should understand the emotional effected that sudden hair loss can have, particularly on seniors. A home care provider can help a caretaker to assess the possible cause or provide necessary counseling to the senior who loses his or her hair.
If you or an aging loved one are considering Senior Care in Quincy, FL, please call the caring staff at Hopewell In-Home Senior Care today at 850-386-5552.Providing Senior Care Services in North Florida.
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