Sun Safety Tips for Seniors: Older Adults and Sun Exposure

Sun Safety Tips for Seniors

The hot, humid weather of May after the April showers also brings to light the concern with senior citizens and sun safety. It is tempting to run outside whenever the sun rays shine through the windows. Before spending countless hours in the sun, it is important to be educated and take caution with sun safety.

The risk of skin cancer increases with age. In fact, reports “between 40 and 50 percent of Americans who live to age 65 will have at least one skin cancer”. It is common thought that senior citizens do not need protection from the sun. However, it is never too late or too soon to begin protecting yourself or an elder you love, from the sun.

Following these sun safety tips from The Skin Cancer Foundation, is the first step for seniors:

  • Encourage the wearing of protective clothing, wear broad-brimming hats and UV-filtering sunglasses on outdoor excursions.
  • Encourage the application of water-resistant, SPF 30 or higher sunscreen before excursions
  • Consider  the application of UV- blocking film to windows
  • Participate in any outdoor activities during the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM (also ensure frequent “shade breaks”)

Following sun safety tips is only the first step in protecting seniors. Being educated on sun myths vs. truths is also extremely vital.

Here are a few myths and the truth about sun safety for seniors:

Myth #1: Seniors need constant sun to supply vitamin D

Truth: Seniors should only have about 15 minutes or less of sun exposure two or three times during the week. If they have this exposure on their face and hands, they will produce adequate amounts of Vitamin D. Also, Vitamin D is not only found in the sun, it is also found in foods and in multivitamins. Cautions such as wearing sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses are necessary.

Myth #2: Seniors only need to apply sunscreen once a day

Truth: Sunscreen should be applied by seniors an hour before venturing into the sun and be reapplied about every two hours; if the senior is swimming or in the ocean then the sunscreen should be applied more frequently. The sunscreen should also have a broad spectrum of protection that blocks UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays cause tanning and wrinkling while the UVB rays cause sunburn, aging, wrinkling and skin cancer.

Myth #3: Seniors only need sunscreen at the pool or beach

Truth: The elderly should wear sunscreen any time they are outside longer than 15 minutes. If a senior is exercising or working in the yard, they should avoid too much sun exposure.

Myth #4: Sunburn is the only problem seniors should worry about when exposed to the sun

Truth: This is not true. With the exposure to too much sun, senior citizens are also at risk for hurting their eyes. The UV rays can cause cataracts, macular degeneration and skin cancer around the eyes. Senior citizens should always wear sunglasses and these shades chosen should be brown, gray or green lenses. These darker and larger lenses are better at protecting the eyes. The shades should also wrap around the eyes and block a high percentage of UV rays.

This article was written with the aid of these following sites: