Summer is just around the corner. As you daydream about your favorite summer activities – eating fresh watermelon, attending a barbeque, long days at the beach, live music at sunset – remember that “sun in the fun” can be quite risky if you don’t take the proper precautions. This is especially true as we get older. Seniors are the most at-risk demographic for skin cancer because skin grows thinner and weaker with age, and older people have been exposed to more cumulative UV rays over the course of their lives. So before you soak up all that summer has to offer, review our sun safety tips for seniors.
Sun Safety Tips for Seniors
Shield Your Skin
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, over half of deaths related to skin cancer are people over age 65. So if you think you’ve gotten through life without skin cancer and you don’t have much to lose, think again. Make it a habit that every time you leave the house, you apply sunscreen liberally and often, following the directions on the bottle. Use a “broad spectrum” sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays and has 30 SPF or higher, and reapply it at least every two hours or after swimming or sweating profusely (source).
Keep in mind that sunscreen isn’t the only tool you have to protect your skin from the sun! You should also cover up as much of your body as possible. Although it may be tempting to always wear tank tops and shorts in the summertime, these items won’t protect you from the sun’s UV rays. Instead, choose pants and long sleeves when possible. Look for light-colored, lightweight, and loose-fitting clothing and a hat to protect your head.
Protect Your Peepers
Sunglasses are the ultimate fashion accessory. Not only do they make you look cool and reduce glare, but also they can protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. Eye health is especially important as you age, as prolonged sun exposure can irritate your eyes and cause them to deteriorate faster. So any time you go out in the sun, simply wear a pair of sunglasses. Look for sunglasses that offer 100-percent UV protection.
Keep Cool & Hydrated
Summer sun in the fun can quickly turn dangerous if you aren’t careful. Seniors are especially susceptible to heat stroke, exhaustion, and dehydration because their bodies are often quite sensitive to cold temperatures due to a natural decrease in metabolic rate (source). This means that even on a very hot day, a senior may not feel particularly hot, leading them to stay out in the sun longer than they should. So as the temperatures skyrocket in July and August, keep cool by staying inside during the hottest portion of the day (typically between 10am and 4pm). When you do go outside, find a shady spot and limit your time in the direct sunlight. In addition, especially if you sweat a lot, remember to rehydrate by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
Visit a Dermatologist Annually
Most people only visit the dermatologist when they notice a skin problem. Create a smarter, healthier routine by scheduling an annual appointment with your dermatologist so that you can be proactive with your skin health. If you visit your dermatologist each year, they can keep track of skin changes, which will help them diagnose skin cancer and other conditions early. In addition, keep an eye on your skin. If you notice any concerning changes, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist promptly. Experts recommend that you watch out for the following characteristics (which can conveniently be shortened to ABCDE):
- Asymmetry (Asymmetrical moles are concerning.)
- Border (Look for irregular, uneven, crusty, or notched borders.)
- Color (Healthy moles are uniform in color. Beware of multi-colored moles, especially white or blue.)
- Diameter (Melanomas are typically larger in diameter than a pencil eraser.)
- Evolve (If a mole changes in size, shape, or color, or if it begins to bleed or scab, it may be dangerous.)
While none of these sun safety tips for seniors is particularly surprising, many of us simply forget to take care of our bodies when we’re out enjoying the summer sun. Keep our recommendations in mind as the temperatures continue to rise, and remind your friends of the importance of sun protection, skin health, and staying cool and hydrated.
Are you looking for a relaxing place to retire near Riverview, Florida? Check out the Crossings at Riverview, located near Tampa, Florida. We invite you to tour our community, meet our friendly staff, and see our amenities first-hand. Overlooking the Alafia River on twelve beautiful acres, the Crossings at Riverview offers a relaxing atmosphere, and our talented team is committed to cultivating a welcoming and vibrant community. Our goal is to make our community feel like home for all of our residents. To schedule a tour, contact us online. We look forward to meeting you!