Six Tips for Protecting the Skin of Senior Adults

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As we head into the summer months with warm weather and sunshine, it’s a great time to talk about skin protection for senior adults. It’s concerning that less than half of older adults protect their skin from the sun when outside for an hour or more on a warm, sunny day. This may raise their risk of getting skin cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Most cases of skin cancer are found in people older than 65 years of age, but it’s never too late to begin focusing more on skin protection, and with Skin Cancer Awareness and Melanoma Awareness happening during May, now is the perfect time to learn more about everyday habits that can help prevent sunburns and lower the chances of getting skin cancer.

Why Senior Adults Should Protect Their Skin From the Sun

As a part of the
normal aging process, our skin often becomes more delicate and vulnerable as we grow older. In addition to this normal process, most skin cancers result from sun damage over the course of our lives. Since senior adults have lived longer, they have had the most sun exposure and sustained the most damage from ultraviolet (UV) light.

Hopefully seniors focused more on sun protection in their younger years, but there are many ways you can meet your loved ones right where they are to change the course of sun damage. 

At USA Healthcare, we have many beautiful outdoor spaces for our seniors to enjoy. We believe that being outdoors, with some time in the sunshine, is good for mental and physical health. But we also focus on keeping our residents in the shade most of the time, as well as making sure they wear sunscreen and protective clothing.

Here are some principles of sun protection we try to employ at USA Healthcare. These are also things you can focus on with senior adult loved ones who may live at home or with you.

  1. Limit time in the sun. It’s okay to go out during the day, but try to avoid the sun during peak times when the rays are strongest. This summer, try to stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If seniors must be outside during this timeframe, provide sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, and lightweight protective clothing to cover arms and legs.
  2. Be careful about cloudy days. Days that are cloudy may provide a good chance to spend more time outdoors, but remember that the sun’s rays can go through clouds, and sunscreen will still be necessary. We can also get sunburned while in water, so if your loved one likes to swim, they will need sunscreen. 
  3. Sunscreen is a priority. Look for sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) number of 15 or higher. It’s best to choose sunscreens with “broad spectrum” on the label, and it should be applied 15 to 30 minutes before going outside. Sunscreen should be reapplied at least every two hours, or more, if swimming or sweating. 
  4. Protective clothing. A hat with a wide brim can shade the neck, ears, eyes, and head. Look for sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of the sun’s rays. Loose, lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and long pants or long skirts are also very helpful for senior adults.
  5. Diet and hydration. These two things are important when it comes to every aspect of senior adults’ health, and they also apply when it comes to protecting skin and keeping it healthy. Getting the right amount of nutrients and drinking plenty of water will help the skin stay healthy, and if any sun damage does occur, it will help the skin heal well and more quickly.
  6. Regular skin inspections. As your loved ones ages, it’s still important to watch for any changes in the skin, including the ABCDEs of skin cancer. Be aware of any areas of skin that are irritated or not healing as this can be a sign of a problem.

Protecting skin from the sun should be a consideration all throughout the year for senior adults. During these hot, sunny summer months it becomes even more important. We do our best to set our residents up for success by giving them plenty of time outside while protecting their skin appropriately so that it’s a fun and safe activity.

USA Healthcare: Your Family is Our Family

At USA Healthcare, we look forward to getting to know you and your family and helping you get the answers you need when it comes to the best care options for your loved ones. Contact us at USA Healthcare to discuss our long-term and short-term care facilities and options. We’re here for you!