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5 Warning Signs of Melanoma in Aging Adults

By Home Care Assistance, 9:00 am on

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops in the melanocyte cells, which are responsible for pigmentation. On women, melanomas commonly develop on the legs, and in men, it often occurs on the back. While brown spots, moles, and other skin growths are generally harmless, seniors who have several moles are at risk of developing melanoma.

Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality senior care. Vancouver families trust in Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably.

Here are a few common signs of melanoma.  

1. A for Asymmetry

If you draw an imaginary horizontal or vertical line through the center of a mole and each side matches the other, the mole is considered symmetrical and harmless. On the other hand, the sides of malignant melanomas are asymmetrical and do not match. 

2. B for Borders

Look at the borders of each mole. Benign or harmless moles are typically smooth around the edges. Melanomas have uneven borders, which may appear notched or scalloped. 

3. C for Color 

Benign moles or spots are typically the same color throughout, which is a shade of brown. However, if a mole contains more than one color, it could be malignant. Melanomas are commonly multiple shades of brown. They might also appear black, red, white, blue, or a combination of these colors. 

Caring for a loved one with melanoma or other health condition often requires a holistic approach to home care. This is where hiring a professional caregiver could prove beneficial for your loved one. A Vancouver home caregiver can help your elderly loved one manage his or her health in a variety of ways. If your loved one needs encouragement to exercise more often, eat healthier foods, or socialize on a regular basis, an in-home caregiver can address these and many other health-related concerns.

4. D for Diameter

Benign moles are generally smaller in size compared to melanomas, normally ¼ of an inch in diameter or the size of a pencil eraser. In general, melanomas are much larger. However, in rare instances, malignant moles are smaller than benign moles.

5. E for Evolution

Benign growths stay the same over months and years. If a mole changes in any noticeable way, the senior should have it checked by a physician to rule out the possibility of melanoma. Evolving changes include size, shape, color, or elevation of moles. Symptomatic changes might also include moles that start bleeding, itching, oozing, and crusting. 

Reducing Melanoma Risk Factors

Before going outdoors in direct sunlight, seniors should apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays. The SPF factor should be at least 30. Wearing long sleeves, long-legged pants, a hat, and sunglasses can also reduce the risk of melanoma. 

From 10am to 3pm during the summer months, the sun’s rays are considered the most dangerous. Family members should keep their senior loved ones in the shade during these times when they venture outdoors. 

Although many people assume tanning beds are safer than sitting out in the sun, this notion is not true. Tanning beds increase the risk of melanoma development by up to 75 percent.

In addition to physical conditions, seniors are at risk of several mental health challenges such dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. When creating a holistic senior care plan for your aging loved one, it is important to consider the impact of cognitive decline. In Vancouver, BC, Alzheimer’s care experts are trained in methods that are designed to slow cognitive decline in the elderly. Using a revolutionary program called the Cognitive Therapeutics Method, Alzheimer’s caregivers keep seniors mentally engaged with exciting activities so they can maintain better cognitive health in the golden years. If you’re in need of a professional caregiver for your loved one, contact Home Care Assistance at 778-279-3634.