280 chapter 13: Growing older with a disability
Your skin will become thinner as you get older, and you may find that you bruise
more easily. This happens to most women.
• If you sit or lie down for most of the day, thinner skin means you can get
pressure sores more easily (see page 114).
• If you use artificial legs or arms, check your skin more often where it touches the
prosthetic to make sure it does not become red and irritated.
• If you have leprosy (Hansen’s disease), check your skin every day. Thinner skin
will make it easier for you to get sores and infections.
• If you have a spinal cord injury or a paralysis and have no feeling in your skin,
ask someone to check your skin every day to prevent pressure sores, especially in
areas you cannot see, such as your back (see page 117).
Eyesight and hearing
Many older people cannot see as well as when they were young. If you are deaf,
it will be difficult for you to understand if someone is speaking to you in sign
language or if you are used to lip-reading.
If you have leprosy, aging may cause an inflammation in your eyes that can cause
blindness if it is not treated.
If you are blind and also start to lose your hearing, communicating and moving
around safely will be more difficult.
Ask your family to make changes that will help you see, hear and move around
more easily. For example, if you do not see as well, try to make
the house lighter inside by painting the walls white, or getting a
brighter light bulb. Mark steps and doorways with different colors
so you can see them better and not trip or bump into them.
If your hearing gets worse, ask people to sit facing you when
talking and to speak clearly but not shout. Turn off radios or
televisions when speaking so you can hear better.
Weak bones (osteoporosis)
After your monthly bleeding stops, your body starts to make less of the hormone
estrogen (see page 72) and your bones may become weaker. Weak bones break more
easily and heal slowly. If your balance is affected by aging, or if you have epilepsy
seizures or cerebral palsy you have a greater risk of falling and
breaking weakened bones. You can prevent weak bones by:
• eating foods rich in calcium (see page 86), with foods that
have vitamin C, such as fruits and yellow-colored vegetables.
• doing regular exercise that puts weight on your bones (see
pages 88 to 90).
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007