Enjoying the Sun Safely

Senior friends talking while walking by the ocean

Enjoying the summer sun is a time-honored tradition. While the rays give us much needed vitamin D and make the outdoors delightful, it’s crucial to remember the importance of sun safety, especially for seniors. July is UV Safety Month and there’s no better time to shed a little light on protecting our skin from harmful UV rays.

Why Sun Protection Matters

The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause more than just a sunburn. Prolonged exposure to UV radiation can lead to serious health issues; skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. Melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer, is expected to reach over 100,000 cases this year. Most skin cancers are found in adults 65 and over, but less than half of older adults protect their skin from the sun. More than 1 in 10 older adults had been sunburned within the past, which is tied to a higher likelihood of skin cancer.

Tips for Staying Safe

Sunshine can be good for you and being outdoors is tied to better mental health. So, it’s important to act to be safe.

  • Wear sunscreen daily. Like everyone else, seniors should apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher every day, even on cloudy days. UV rays can penetrate clouds, so protection is essential regardless of the weather.
  • Stay in the shade. When possible, find the shade, especially during peak sun hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. A wide-brimmed hat and lightweight, long-sleeved clothing can also provide additional protection.
  • Protect the eyes. Wear sunglasses that offer UV protection to shield your eyes from harmful rays. Look for sunglasses labeled with “UV 400” or “100% UV protection.”
  • Plan activities wisely. Schedule outdoor activities earlier or later in the day to avoid the strongest sunlight. Morning walks or evening picnics can still be enjoyable while reducing sun exposure.
  • Know about reflected UV. Water and sand reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn. Be aware of this double-danger.
  • Check medication side effects. Some medications can increase sensitivity to the sun’s rays, making it easier for your skin to burn or causing a rash. Consult with their healthcare provider to understand any potential side effects and take necessary precautions.
  • Regular skin checks. Perform regular self-examinations of your skin to detect any changes or abnormalities. Early detection is key in the successful treatment of skin cancer.

Of course, don’t forget to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water all day.

Let’s embrace the joys of summer safely! By being mindful of sun exposure, we can ensure that our outdoor adventures remain an enjoyable memory in the future.

Categories: Aging Well, Senior Health