Lush green grass, blue skies, sandy beaches and an abundance of sunshine--all of these things are used to describe the summertime. But with an abundance of sunshine also comes additional dangers for senior skin and health.
It is especially important for seniors to shield themselves from direct sun during the summer months. Without the right protection from the sun, seniors run the risk of a variety of health complications.
The Dangers of Too Much Sun for Seniors
Aside from concerns about sunburns, there are other conditions triggered by prolonged sun exposure that can be dangerous for seniors in the summer months.
Melanoma and Skin Cancer
According to The Cancer Network, melanoma “accounts for the majority of skin cancer deaths worldwide and has dramatically increased in incidence over the past halfcentury.” Melanoma is commonly found in men on the area of the body between the shoulders and hips or head and neck, and in women it pops up on the arms and legs.
The National Institutes of Health: Senior Health reports that “a person's risk of skin cancer is related to lifetime exposure to UV radiation. Most skin cancer appears after age 50, but the sun damages the skin from an early age.”
When it comes to heat stroke, seniors are especially susceptible to feel the negative effects of the sun. Heat stroke for seniors can be dangerous, as it is the most serious heat-related illness and is characterized by the body being unable to control its own temperature. If you’re concerned about sunstroke, seniors should be aware of the following symptoms, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control:
An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
Rapid, strong pulse
If heat stroke goes untreated, it can cause permanent damage or even death.
Cataracts are clouding over the lens of the eye, which lead to blurry vision. They are often associated with aging; however, many people don’t realize that prolonged exposure to sunlight can lead to cataracts. According to the National Eye Institute, the following signs and symptoms are signs that you might have cataracts:
Cloudy or blurry vision
Colors seem faded
Glare. Headlights, lamps, or sunlight may appear too bright; a halo may appear around lights
Poor night vision
Double vision or multiple images in one eye (this symptom may clear as the cataract gets larger)
Frequent prescription changes in your eyeglasses or contact lenses
If you are aged 50 and over and experience any of the above symptoms, you should make an appointment to see an eye doctor for a check up.
Preventing Sun Damage
Melanoma, heat stroke and cataracts, while different types of sun-induced conditions, can all be prevented by taking extra measures to protect senior skin from the sun. The right summer skin care for seniors can end up keeping you healthier in the long run.
Wear a hat and sunglasses. Covering up during the summer months might seem counterintuitive but will end up protecting your most vulnerable assets. A hat can help prevent melanoma from developing on your head, while sunglasses with UV protection can keep your eyes safe from cataracts.
Wear SPF 30 or higher (and reapply!). For seniors and Baby Boomers, the concept of wearing sunscreen regularly can be strange and foreign. But get into the habit of applying sunscreen every morning before leaving the house and reapply for every two hours spent in the sun.
Stay hydrated. The added heat from the sun in summer months can dehydrate you quickly. Drink plenty of water--13 cups for men and 9 cups for women--in order to avoid overheating.
Look for shade. While it can be nice to set up your beach chair out in the open, a beach umbrella will give you the option of a shady retreat from the sun when you need it. It can not only protect seniors from sunstroke, it can also help to prevent skin cancer.
Check your meds. Be sure to talk to your pharmacist or read the fine print that comes with your prescriptions. Some types of medications do not interact well with the sun and can lead to additional health complications.
The bottom line? You can never be too careful when it comes to the sun. Buy a Mobile Guardian today, to make sure you stay protected while out in the sun!