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 AsymmetryMost 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. Caring for senior loved ones can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.
2. B for BorderThe 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 ColorMost 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 DiameterMelanomas 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. Caring for a loved one with melanoma can be challenging at times. One of the most challenging tasks of helping an elderly relative age in place safely and comfortably is researching agencies that provide at-home care. Lauderdale-by-the-Sea families can turn to Home Care Assistance for reliable, high-quality in-home care for aging adults. We offer 24-hour live-in care for seniors who require extensive assistance, and we also offer respite care for family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties.
5. E for EvolutionBenign 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 MelanomaThe 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.