Advanced Sun Protection Strategies for Seniors

July 24, 2013
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sun protection tips for elderlyWhat’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “summer”? Sun, of course!

sun protection tips for elderlyWhat’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “summer”? Sun, of course!

After a long winter indoors, the pleasant weather is a refreshing reminder to spend more time outside. The mild temperatures usher in more opportunities for social events like barbeques and outdoor activities such as gardening, walking, and hiking.

With the extra dose of sunshine, however, it’s important to stay mindful of the damaging effects excess UV rays can have for seniors in particular. Age-related changes leave seniors’ skin surface thinner, and therefore, less able to sustain prolonged sun exposure.

While everyone knows it is important for older adults to wear and reapply sunscreen often, here are several advanced precautions seniors and caregivers should consider:

  • Perform a skin inspection. Before absorbing any additional rays, get any abnormal spots checked out. If you have any marks or moles that begin to change shape, make an appointment with a skin specialist to make sure these skin changes are not cancerous.
  • Follow the well-known rules around sunscreen application, and don’t forget to apply it to sun-sensitive areas like feet, hands, the tip of the nose, and ears.
  • Research your medications for any possible side effects caused by sun exposure, such as skin rash.
  • Keep a low profile. Seek shade whenever possible and cover up with hats, a loose long sleeve shirt, or beach umbrella. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends avoiding outdoor activity during the hottest part of the day, between 10 am and 4pm.
  • Stay hydrated. Make sure to drink plenty of water. Since the elderly are prone to skin dryness, which can be exacerbated by sun exposure, apply a lotion or cream to prevent water loss from the skin surface.