Sun Safety for Seniors
Never in history has our health been more fragile than it is now. With new medical improvements and better nutrition, quality of life improves with life expectancy, allowing us to live longer, better lives. But with those extra years comes extra responsibility. As we age, our skin becomes more and more vulnerable to the harmful side effects of the sun. As such we need to exercise more caution to ensure that our skin remains healthy.
Failure to protect from the sun increases the odds of wrinkles and harmful skin cancers, as well as the discomfort and risks associated with sunburn. Here are five facts (in fives) about sun protection for older adults, followed by some tips and tricks to stay sun-safe without the precautions ruining your day out.
- Five Million. That’s the number of people treated each year in the US for skin cancers according to the CDC, and the majority of cases are found in adults aged 65 and over.
- Five. There are five kinds of sun protection recommended by the CDC to ensure safety from the sun:
- Staying in the shade
- Wearing sunscreen
- Wearing a hat–wide brimmed
- Wearing clothing until the ankles
- Wearing clothing that covers up to the wrists
These tips and tricks will guarantee you a sun-safe day. For the sake of comfort, we recommend that these full coverage clothes be breathable fabrics, like cotton, to ensure that you stay cool and comfortable in the heat.
- Fifteen Percent. That’s the amount of older seniors who said they regularly use all 5 modes of protection from the sun. When surveyed, older men preferred clothing to the ankles (longer pants generally) as well as staying in the shade, and older women primarily used sunscreen, as well as staying in the shade. 15% is also the amount of sun-sensitive seniors (sun-sensitive meaning that they will sunburn in an hour or less) who do not use any of these sun protection methods.
- Fifteen minutes. That’s how quickly it can take for skin to be damaged by ultraviolet rays.
- Everyone. No matter the racial or ethnic background, older adults from each demographic reported getting sunburned during previous summers. So skin tone may be a factor, but it is not enough of one to forgo sun protection.
In addition to the CDC’s recommendations above, here are some other great ways to be sun-safe this summer without compromising on fun times:
- Not all sunscreens are created equal. Make sure your sunscreen protects from UVA and UVB. Sometimes this shows up on the label as “broad spectrum” protection. You’ll want a sunscreen that 30 SPF or higher for optimum protection, and seeing as summer is a sweaty season, we highly recommend getting sunscreen that is water resistant.
- Apply sunscreen regularly. If you’re on land, every 2 hours is recommended, if you’re in the water, every 40 minutes. The sunscreens that offer the best coverage are the creams; while spray sunscreen is super fast, it’s far easier to miss a spot that you will only notice once it is bright red and angry. However, sunscreen gels work great in areas with hair, and the stick is great for applying to small, specific places, like the tops of the ears.
- Sun protection doesn’t end with sunscreen. Sun-safe clothes–including swimwear and sportswear are available here at HydroChic in many great styles and ensure that those areas not covered in sunscreen are safe as well. In addition, make sure to buy UVA and UVB blocking sunglasses, and wear sun hats and other protective clothing.
- Timing is everything. If possible, plan your moments outdoors before 10am or after 4pm, when the sun is at its strongest. If that’s not possible (we’ll be the first to agree with you about the fun of a BBQ lunch by the pool!) make sure to pay extra attention to the tips above!
- Keep it shady. Whether it’s under a gorgeous palm tree, a beach umbrella, or a Ramada, pick your spot of shade and make yourself at home. This is fantastic for so many reasons–you’ll stay cool, your drinks will stay cool, your chair won’t heat up, your e-reader won’t be fighting a glare from the sun, and most importantly, your skin will stay safe.