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Helpful Tips to Keep Your Senior’s Skin Safe From the Harsh Summer Sun

We have all heard throughout our lives that protecting our skin from the sun’s harmful rays will help prevent aging. But what happens when your senior reaches the age of 60 or older? One might wonder if the elderly should still take safety precautions after they have reached a certain age.  As we approach July, which is UV Safety Month, it is important to discuss with your loved one the importance of sun protection at any age.

As we age our skin loses its ability to produce T cells, which is a certain type of immune cell that helps repair damaged skin. This leaves seniors vulnerable to skin cancer and infections.

The harsh summer sun can also be a danger for those who are susceptible to heat-related illnesses. Often seniors take prescribed medications that can heighten their sensitivity to the sun, causing them to feel less thirsty and exposing them to sunburn, dehydration, cataracts, and heatstroke.  With a few simple precautions, you can reduce these risks. Here are a few sun safety tips to keep your loved one safe:

  • Avoid strong sun. If your senior enjoys outdoor recreational activities, encourage them to schedule these activities for the early morning or evening, when the sun is weaker, rather than in the middle of the day when the sun is at its peak.
  • Apply Sunscreen. It is important to apply sunscreen 30 to 60 minutes prior to sun exposure. Even if your senior spends their time indoors, they are still exposed to the sun’s UVA and UVB radiation through windows. It is recommended to use an SPF of 30 or higher and to reapply sunscreen every two hours.
  • Wear protective clothing. Wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts made of breathable fabrics such as cotton are recommended for seniors to give them added protection against the sun and reduce the need to reapply sunscreen. It is also important for your senior to wear wide-brimmed hats and protective eyewear designed with UV protection when enjoying outdoor activities.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Seniors are less likely to be thirsty, especially if they are required to take certain medications. Encourage your senior to drink at least six to eight glasses of water a day if they plan on doing any physical activity or if the weather is extra hot.
  • Be proactive and ask questions. Speak with your senior’s doctor if you have any concerns on whether their medication has any sun-related warnings or may increase their sensitivity to the sun.

 

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