The other day, as we were riding in the car, driving to Fairfax County, my grandmother began bemoaning the fact that her hair has thinned. Now for a woman in her mid-eighties, she still has a remarkable head of hair, but as she informed me, her hair is no longer thick and lustrous as it used to be.
It turns out that my grandmother is not alone. Thinning hair, and even occasional bald spots, are not unusual in elderly women and the condition even has its own name: androgenic alopecia. However, as females age, they do not necessarily become less concerned about appearance. As the current popularity of botox and plastic surgery attests, women will often go to remarkable lengths to defy the outward effects of aging.
So, what causes androgenic alopecia? What can be done to slow or halt the process? Female hair loss can be attributed to a number of causes including:
- Diet – Poor diets lacking zinc, copper, iron and vitamins A, B and C can cause hair to become brittle and slow the regrowth process.
- Health issues – Conditions such as diabetes, stress and hyperthyroidism can also contribute to androgenic alopecia. Additionally, medications such as blood thinners, chemotherapy drugs, gout medications and some antidepressants often have side effects that lead to hair loss.
Fortunately, correcting poor eating habits and bringing conditions such as diabetes and hyperthyroidism under control through careful monitoring is sometimes sufficient to slow or end androgenic alopecia.
What additional steps can you as a caregiver take on a daily basis to help slow hair loss in your loved ones? Here are some practical suggestions.
- Do not brush or comb hair more than necessary. Brushing can often cause brittle hairs to break, especially when the hair is wet. If you do brush your loved one’s hair, be sure to use a comb with wide teeth or a brush with smooth-ended bristles.
- Avoid tight hairstyles. Braids, cornrows, buns, and other hairstyles that cause pulling at the scalp can cause hair to fall out more quickly.
- Wash hair carefully. Shampooing too frequently can damage hair, so make sure that you wash your loved one’s hair often enough to keep it clean, but not more than necessary. Be sure to use a conditioner after washing as well, so that the hair is easy to comb.
- Avoid permanents and hot-oil treatments. The chemicals used in these treatments can irritate hair follicles and lead to hair loss.
By taking a few simple steps, you may be able to help your loved one keep her hair looking full and lovely for years to come. Have any more suggestions for our readers? Share them with us below or on our Caregiver Forum.
We hope this was helpful. If you have any questions or if you know of a senior who could benefit from our vast array of home care services in the Fairfax area , please call us at 703.750.6644, or email us. We accept most long term care insurance as payment and have a full time staff of trained and certified home care personnel covering the Fairfax County, Virginia area.