Summer Safety Tips for Seniors
Summer is here, and the sun is here to stay! Seniors are especially prone to burns and overheating. The fact is, as the Skin Cancer Foundation says, “the risk of getting skin cancer is having skin,” so the key is to get your parents and loved ones prepared!
Before we get into some essential tips for seniors to protect their skin from sun exposure, be sure to note your family history. Skin cancer in your immediate family can be a significant risk factor. Also, those with many moles, dark brown spots that are flat or elevated, irregular or regular, can be more susceptible of developing skin cancer.
Most importantly, always watch out for yourself and your older loved ones while in the sun. Every sunburn puts increases your risk for skin cancer!
While many of these will be familiar, here are some crucial tips on how you can protect yourself and your partners, grandparents and loved ones.
Did you know that in addition to wearing light, flowy clothing that covers your body like linen drawstring pants, a tunic and wide-brimmed hat, you can buy clothing that is designed to block UV rays? You can even buy UV-blocking blinds for your home’s windows!
Be more selective with your sunscreen:
Not all sunscreens are effective, let alone good for your skin. In terms of SPF levels, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends SPF 30 at least, or higher. These creams protect your skin from B UV rays which burn your skin. Also be sure to look for sunscreens that offer “broad spectrum coverage”. This means it can protect you from A UV rays, which can harm your skin by reaching you through even car and home windows. Be sure to apply it 30 minutes before to allow it to properly set in, and if you opt for a spray over a cream or lotion, apply more often than every two hours. Of course, be sure to buy quality sunscreen from trusted brands that have less harmful ingredients. Also, don’t forget to You don’t want to leave the house without applying sunscreen, but many people forget the importance of re-applying throughout the day, especially when poolside or at the beach. Stick a small bottle or sunscreen stick into every bag or purse, as well as your client’s bag so you don’t forget, and set a timer on your phone to remind yourself. You can never be too careful when it comes to sun exposure!
Be sure to limit exposure between 10am – 2pm, as that is when the sun is at its highest point, look for shade when you’re outside, as mentioned, wear protective clothing, hats and sunscreen, and use beach umbrellas! When you’re not out enjoying the summer weather, be sure to check your body and your client’s body for any changes in their skin and moles. Check each other, and know that as soon you find something that’s off, see a doctor.
Drink 6-8 cups of water a day, and if you can, invest in an eco-friendly water bottle for yourself and your client that will keep your water cool. If you like the taste, try drinking coconut water and aloe water to get your electrolyte level up, and eat bananas rich in potassium. We lose a ton of electrolytes in the summer, and whenever we sweat, so keep that in mind!
Limit your time outside
It can be hard to get home in the middle of a beautiful summer day, but it is critical to break up your day and time out in the sun. Overheating can lead to dizziness and faint spells, dehydration and sunstroke, not to mention risk of sun damage. Spend a few hours outside, and take breaks in you or your client’s home. If you’re out in public or on an excursion, make sure you plan a break inside a local coffee shop or shopping center.
Use air conditioning or buy a unit!
Summer heat waves can be brutal, and can prove deadly for those who live without central air or air conditioning units throughout the home. Sometimes a fan just can’t do the job, so if you or your client don’t have one, reach out to their family to see if you can pool together some money to buy one to install in their window. Avoid sitting inside for too long during the summer in general, and if you don’t have A/C in your home and can’t find a way to afford it, take trips during the hottest part of the day to the mall, the movies, or the closest library. You can take advantage of their A/C for a little while before heading back home when the day starts to cool down.
Check your medications!
Did you know that some medications and face and body creams or cleansers can make your skin more sensitive to the sun? Make sure you know this before heading outside and try to wear sunscreen indoors as well as outdoors as UV rays can hit through windows. Don’t let it keep you from going outside, however, and remember that wearing a hat, sunglasses, and loose long sleeve shirts and loose pants are great choices to protect yourself from the sun.