As a person ages, the growth rate of their hair decreases dramatically. While hair thinning and hair loss happens to both men and women, it’s usually more noticeable in women because they wear their hair longer than most men. It’s important for family caregivers and senior care providers to understand as much as they can about hair thinning and hair loss in elderly women so they can help them deal with the causes and work together on prevention.
Here are some of the most common reasons why hair loss is so common in aging women:
Age-Related Effects on the Body
With age, a woman’s hair follicles don’t create hair as quickly, meaning that growth slows down. Because hair falls out normally, there simply isn’t enough hair production to replace it, leaving the hair on the head thin and sometimes patchy. In women, menopause can trigger a drop in essential hormones that help promote hair growth, making it even harder to grow and keep hair.
A lack of key vitamins and minerals can have a significant effect on hair growth in seniors. Because their appetite diminishes and they may not be making very healthy meals for themselves, seniors can become malnourished quite easily. Among the important nutrients that contribute to healthy hair are Vitamin A, Vitamins B6, B12, and Vitamin C. Other key nutrients include Biotin, Copper, Iron, and Zinc. When the hair isn’t healthy, it can break because it is weakened.
Medicine Side Effects
There are lots of medicines that include hair loss as a side effect. If an elderly woman is already at risk for thin hair, taking this kind of medicine can accelerate it. Some of the common medicines that many seniors take that also cause hair loss include blood thinners, chemotherapy, antidepressants and medicine for gout. Family caregivers can work with the doctors to consider adjusting dosages or switching to other types if possible.
Diseases and Illnesses
Elderly women are more likely to have a chronic illness that affects hair growth and production than younger women. Common conditions that may trigger hair loss include diabetes and hyperthyroidism. These diseases affect hormones and metabolism, which in turn affect hair growth and health. Managing those diseases well may postpone or slow down any hair loss in elderly women.
Harsh Hair Treatment
Sometimes even the healthiest elderly hair can’t stand up well to harsh care and treatment. Family caregivers and senior care providers should be as gentle as possible as they help elderly women bathe and groom themselves. They should only use a gentle shampoo and warm water. Any hair dryers should be set to cool temperatures and when using a curling iron, senior care providers should likewise avoid high heat. Harsh hair dyes and other chemical treatments can also damage hair, so family caregivers and senior care providers should leave it to professionals with experience in working with elderly hair.
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