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Sun Safety for Seniors

Jul 3, 2024 | Featured, Health & Wellness | 0 comments

When the sun is shining, and the weather is warm, most of us want to be outside. It’s a great pastime for many, whether you’re gardening, taking walks, swimming, or just soaking up the sun. However, it’s crucial for seniors to be careful in the sun, as 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by age 70. Sun safety for seniors is particularly important in reducing this risk. Learn how to protect your skin (and health) while out and about this summer!

Avoid Peak Times

The sun’s rays are at their most intense between 10 am and 4 pm, especially during the spring and summer months. This heightened intensity increases the risk of skin damage from ultraviolet (UV) rays. To protect yourself, be mindful of your exposure to sunlight.

One useful indicator is to check your shadow. If your shadow appears to be shorter than you are, it means that the sun’s rays are striking the ground at a steep angle and are more intense. In that case, it’s important to head inside, seek shade, or use appropriate sun protection to reduce your UV exposure and lower the risk of skin damage.

Be Wary of Clouds

If it’s a cloudy, overcast day, you don’t have to worry about sun exposure, right? Wrong. This is when most people get sunburnt! While the lack of sunshine is misleading, a high percentage of UV light still penetrates through clouds, leaving your skin exposed and vulnerable.

On cloudy days, check the UV Index before heading outside. This numerical scale, rated from low (2 or less) to extreme (11+), indicates the power of the sun’s rays on any given day or time. The higher the UV, the more likely you are to burn. Use sun protection if the UV is 3 or higher!

Stay Safe in the Water

It’s a common misconception that you’re fully protected from the sun when you’re in the water. While swimming and other water activities are excellent exercise for seniors, it’s important to take the right precautions to protect yourself. Sun safety for seniors is crucial, as water doesn’t provide significant protection from UV radiation. Approximately 40% of UV radiation can still reach your body even when you’re 1.5 feet below the water’s surface.

Apply water-resistant sunblock at least 30 minutes before going into the water and reapply at least every two hours or between every swim session.

Stay Hydrated

High temperatures and humidity can quickly dehydrate you, as the increased warmth leads to more sweating. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seniors are more prone to heat-related illness because they can’t adjust to sudden temperature changes as fast as younger people.  

Staying hydrated is a key part of preventing heat-related illnesses like heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Follow these tips for staying hydrated:

  • Always keep a reusable water bottle filled with cool water with you.
  • Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water – you may already be slightly dehydrated if you do! Make sure to drink consistently throughout the day.
  • Avoid dehydrating beverages like juice, alcohol, coffee, and soda.
  • Snack on fruits and vegetables that have high water content, such as watermelon, grapes, cucumbers, celery, strawberries, and oranges.

Protect Your Skin

Learn additional ways to stay sun-safe this summer.


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