shutterstock_532683400_AT6Stdl.jpeg (shutterstock_532683400.webp)Summer has finally arrived, and everyone is excited to spend their days enjoying the warm sunshine. It’s time to have a relaxing day on the beach, take your kids out for a fun-filled day in the park, or host a barbecue in the backyard. While you make the most of your summer, you must remember to protect yourself and your loved ones from the sun. This is especially important for older adults.

Many older adults do not take the necessary measures to protect their skin from the sun. In fact, less than half of older adults protect their skin from the sun when they’re outside for more than one hour.(opens in a new tab) Without proper sun protection, the elderly are at high risk for skin cancer and other serious conditions. Here are four tips from Gallagher Home Care on how best to protect your senior family members this summer.

1. Understand the Risks of Sun Exposure

While it can be fun to have a day in the sun, the elderly are at risk for serious conditions caused by excessive sun exposure

Some common conditions caused by sun exposure are:

  • Skin Cancer: Skin cancer occurs with the abnormal growth of skin cells, and there are three major types:
    • Melanoma: If treatment is delayed, Melanoma can be fatal, as it has a high likelihood of spreading to other parts of the body.
    • Basal cell carcinoma:  Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. It is curable if it is caught early enough, and is not likely to spread to other parts of the body.
    • Squamous cell carcinoma: It is unusual for squamous cell carcinoma to spread to other parts of the body. It can be cured with proper treatment and is best treated when detected early.
  • Heat Stroke: Heatstroke happens when your body is overheating after being exposed to a high temperature for a long time, or when exerting physical energy in high temperatures. Heatstroke can damage your brain, organs, and even cause death if not treated immediately.
  • Cataracts: Cataracts are a cloudy lens or blurring of the eye. While this can typically happen with age, many people aren’t aware that it can also be due to long exposure to the sun.

2. Wear Sunscreen

It is incredibly important to wear sunscreen every day. Studies have shown that 1 in 5 people develop skin cancer by the age of 70(opens in a new tab), and wearing sunscreen will help lower the risk of developing skin cancer. Dermatologists recommend that you apply sunscreen with at least 30 SPF multiple times a day.

Sunscreen has other benefits, too! In addition to lowering your risk for harmful disease, it can also aid in skin's appearance. Wearing sunscreen daily can prevent skin discoloration and reduce inflammation.

3. Dress For Protection

Covering as much skin as possible with lightweight clothing, like long sleeves and pants, can also aid in protecting your loved one’s skin. Dark colors have a much higher SPF, therefore wearing dark-colored clothing that covers the skin will be very useful. For instance, a long-sleeved denim shirt provides an  SPF of about 1,700,(opens in a new tab) while a white t-shirt provides an SPF of about 7.

A wide-brimmed hat and a good pair of sunglasses will also do the trick. A wide-brimmed hat is a good way to keep the face and neck covered, protecting them from the harsh sun. Sunglasses will protect the eyes, and it’s recommended to get a pair with UV protection.

Seniors may also want to wear shoes that cover their feet to protect their feet from the sun. But, if they do wear sandals, make sure they put water-resistant sunscreen on their feet and any other skin that is uncovered.

4. Stay Hydrated

Whether you’re in the sun or not, it is essential to stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water will help seniors avoid any dehydration or heat stroke symptoms, and it is what’s best for overall health. Staying hydrated helps the muscles and heart work more efficiently, which will keep your family healthy and happy while they enjoy their day in the sun.

Even though there are risks to being exposed to sunlight, seniors can still enjoy the summer sun with their families as long as they take preventative measures to protect their skin and health. It’s normal to forget to take these precautions sometimes. If your elderly loved one needs someone to accompany them on their trips outside or make sure they protect themselves, Gallagher Home Care has many companions qualified to care for your loved one in their own home. If you live in the Pittsburgh Area, request a free in-home evaluation today to give your loved ones the care they need from the comfort of their own home.

Gallagher Home Care is a Medicare-certified home health agency that serves across 8 Pennsylvania counties. Our employees are dedicated to providing exceptional, compassionate care to seniors while allowing them to keep their independence. We provide companion care, housekeeping, home safety monitoring, and even provide free in-home evaluations for new families. Request an appointment online or call (412) 453-8082 to learn more.