Visiting Angels, Punta Gorda Blog

Don’t Skip the SPF: Four Sun Safety Tips for Seniors

Sunscreen on beachThe dog days of summer are upon us, and while hot, sunny weather is expected in this region, it can leave many ready for a change of seasons. Yet, spending time outdoors is necessary and even desirable, no matter the heat index. There are errands to run, gardens and yards to maintain, and a plethora of outdoor activities to pursue. In fact, spending too much time indoors is detrimental to our health. Not getting enough sun exposure can lead to a Vitamin D deficiency. Those who stay indoors more regularly are less active, leading to weight gain. Staying indoors can even lead to feelings of anxiety and restlessness. It’s evident that we all need some exposure to the sun on a regular basis.

Too much time outdoors, however, can lead to problems such as sunburn and dehydration, especially for older adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people over the age of 65 are more a risk to heat-related health problems. Older adults lose the ability to regulate their body temperature effectively, due to age and/or chronic medical conditions. Certain prescription medications can also interfere with an older adult’s ability to control body temperature or produce adequate sweat. However, by taking a few precautions, seniors can safely enjoy the great outdoors, avoid sunburn, and prevent dehydration. Here are four sun safety tips for seniors, to help you navigate the dog days of summer.

Apply Sunscreen

Many seniors are in the habit of skipping sunscreen, thinking that they’ll only be outdoors for a short amount of time. Older adults are also less likely to apply sunscreen because it wasn’t something that they did in their younger years. However, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends wearing sunscreen, no matter your age. Older adult skin has less fat and water, causing it to appear thinner. Thinner skin offers less protection against UV rays. To prevent sunburn and skin cancer, the AAD recommends applying sunscreen at least 15 minutes before outdoor activity. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

Wear Protective Clothing

The right clothing can prevent sunburn and protect older adults from the risk of heat-stroke when outdoors. Choose loose long-sleeved shirts and pants made from lightweight, breathable materials. These garments are ideal sun protection for older adults because they don’t need to be reapplied like sunscreen. Moisture-wicking material can help older adults regulate their body temperature and reduce their risk for heat-stroke. For longer stints in the sun, look for clothing specifically designed to offer UV protection. Top it off with a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.

Stay Hydrated

In addition to applying sunscreen and wearing protective clothing, beat summer’s heat by drinking plenty of water. Many seniors neglect to drink water simply because their thirst sensation decreases with age. Older adults often don’t even realize that they are dehydrated, which can lead to an assortment of health problems, including heat-stroke. Stay on top of fluid intake by drinking between six to eight glasses of water each day, even if you don’t feel thirsty. An easy way to increase water intake is to drink a glass of water before each meal and snack. If you’re an active older adult, plan to drink even more water in order to replace fluids lost through excessive sweat.

Seek Shelter

Finally, beat the heat by seeking shelter, especially on the hottest of hot days. If possible, plan your day around the sun. The sun is the most intense during the middle of the day. Enjoy outdoor activities, such as gardening, tennis, golf, or a walk, earlier in the morning, or later in the evening, before or after the sun is at its peak. Plan to run errands on the cooler days of the week. When the heat index is high, plan to stay inside and enjoy the comfort of air conditioning. If you do need to be outdoors on a hot, sunny day, say to watch your grandchildren’s soccer game or to chit-chat with a neighbor, use a sunshade umbrella or stick to shaded porches.

Visiting Angels Punta Gorda is here for you, during the dog days of summer and beyond. If you or your aging loved one needs additional resources to stay safe in the sun, we can help. We provide families with respite care, friendly companionship, personal care, assistance with running errands, and more. We work with you to create a customized, personal care plan that meets all your elder care needs. We can check in with your aging loved one on those hot, summer days, and escort them on their various outdoor activities, so that you have peace of mind that your loved one is cool and safe. To learn more about our senior in-home care services, please contact us today by calling 941-347-8288 Punta Gorda or 239-226-1620 Cape Coral.

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