By now, we all know the dangers of overexposure to the sun’s harmful rays. It can be even more important for seniors to stay protected from the sun. They have thinner skin, which makes it more difficult for them to repair damaged cells and the sun can react badly to certain medications they are taking.
Many seniors may claim that they never had to bother before, so why start now? It is still very important to take precautions against the sun. Here are a few ways you can keep yourself safe from the sun.
Wearing sunscreen is something everyone should be doing, especially during peak hours. It’s important to find the right type of sunscreen. Look for mineral sunscreen and not chemical types.
The mineral sunscreen will block out the harmful rays and help reflect them off the skin. They may leave a white residue on the skin and look for ingredients like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, or both.
Look for an SPF of at least 30 and make sure it is water-resistant. Ideally, put it on at least half an hour before going outside.
Keep your head, arms, neck, chest, face, and feet covered. A large-brimmed hat will help considerably cover up a lot of these areas. If it’s early summer, be very cautious with exposed skin that has been covered for several months.
When it is really hot, look for cotton or linen fabrics that will breathe and allow air through. Try dressing in layers, so you can adjust to the heat accordingly.
Stay in the Shade
Not only will you be protecting yourself from a sunburn, but it will be much cooler and much more pleasant under the shade. Sitting under a tree, under an awning or bring an umbrella for those times you may not have access to other shade.
It’s also a great way to protect yourself from heat stroke and exhaustion. It can become overwhelming for people exposed to the direct heat for too long. Be sure to move your chair, if possible, as the sun moves across the sky. If you are in an exposed area, encourage trips to the store, washroom or other places where they can get relief from the heat.
Going out for the day can be a concern for some of our seniors and they may stop taking fluids beforehand. They may be afraid of needing to use the restroom frequently or having an accident. Try to encourage them to drink before they leave anyhow.
Avoid sugary drinks, drinks with caffeine and alcohol and instead offer water and sports drinks that help replace minerals and electrolytes. Encourage them to drink plenty of fluids, and make sure you keep an eye on them for signs of dehydration.
It’s not uncommon for our older people to feel cold all the time. Poor circulation and less fatty tissue in their body can make them feel cooler than most. There may be a desire to sit out in the sun for warmth, but this should be discouraged.
They also may not tell you if they are feeling light-headed or nauseous from over-exposure. While they may not show signs of overheating as younger people do, like sweating or red in the face, they can still be suffering.
If you are taking medication that can cause you to have an adverse reaction to the sun, consider a medical alert system. This is also a good idea when you are out on your own and experiencing difficulty from too much sun. Stay cool. Stay safe.