While enjoying the warmth of the sun certainly feels great, we all know that too much sun exposure can have dire consequences. But, are you aware that seniors are even more at risk, as studies have shown their more delicate skin is more vulnerable to infections and skin cancer?
The overarching takeaway from that knowledge is that older adults need to take special precautions to limit their sun exposure as much as possible. And, here are a few other tips from an article on the Griswold Home Care website:
- Don’t get a tan. A tan is the skin’s signal that damage has been done (a sunburn, even more so). Older adults have already sustained decades of sun damage. Tans and sunburn increase their risk of skin cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Anyone who’s already been burned a few times in their life — or worse, used to tan regularly when they were younger, must take special care to stay out of the sun.
- Seek out shade. Seeking protection from the sun doesn’t mean seniors can never go outside. They should use a sunshade or umbrella at the beach or pool, and stick to shady porches if they’re enjoying an afternoon outside at home or having an al fresco lunch.
- Know when to stay inside. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the sun’s rays are strongest in North America between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Seniors should plan to stay inside or in a shaded area during these hours.
- Make sunscreen part of a daily routine. Even a short walk to and from the car, or passing by sunny windows while indoors can expose skin to dangerous UV rays. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using sunscreen of SPF 30 on any exposed skin every day — for everyone — whether they’ll be inside or out.
- Wear protective clothing. Loose, lightweight long pants and long-sleeved shirts are ideal sun protection garb for older adults because they don’t have to be reapplied like sunscreen, and can offer better protection. Make sure the clothing has a tight weave so sun can’t sneak through, and top it off with a wide-brimmed hat. Seniors who plan to spend a lot of time outdoors should look for clothing specially designed to offer UV protection, as well as UV-blocking sunglasses, window shades and car window tints.
- Use moisturizer. As skin ages, it becomes more prone to dryness, which can be made worse by sun damage. Make sure seniors keep their skin moist with a lotion or cream to help protect it.
At S.A.F.E., we’re all about helping you help the seniors you love enjoy a high quality of life, and given that we live in sunny Southern California, the sun care tips above are especially relevant. Contact us if you have other questions about seniors and the sun.