Summer months bring long days, warm nights and lots of sunshine. At Anthology Senior Communities, there are multiple opportunities to take in the beautiful weather, like walking through the landscaped grounds or enjoying a meal outdoors. While summertime can mean soaking up the sunshine, the higher temperatures can also mean a greater risk for health concerns.
Especially for older adults, heat-related health problems can occur for a variety of reasons. As we age, the body has a harder time regulating internal body temperature, and experiencing a hot day can lead to serious health concerns for those with underlying health conditions or who are taking certain types of medications.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that less than half of older adults protect their skin from the sun when outside for over an hour. This raises their risk of skin cancer. The Centers estimate that between 40 and 50 percent of fair-skinned people over 65 will develop at least one type of skin cancer.
To enjoy the best summer possible, it is important for seniors to understand how to stay safe, especially as regards staying safe in the sun and staying properly hydrated.
When Is UV Safety Month?
July is the perfect time to discuss sun safety for seniors because July is UV Safety Awareness Month! Ultraviolet (UV) rays are a type of invisible radiation that come from the sun, sun lamps, and tanning beds. UV rays can penetrate and change skin cells.
Even though July is the official month for UV safety, anytime the sun is shining bright is a great time to practice these tips and tricks.
There are three types of UV rays:
- Ultraviolet A (UVA). UVA rays penetrate deep into the layers of the skin. This can lead to premature signs of aging, such as fine lines, wrinkles, age spots and skin tags.
- Ultraviolet B (UVB). The primary cause of sunburns, UVB rays can thicken the skin and cause several types of skin cancers, including melanoma. UVB rays penetrate the outermost layer of skin and cause damage to skin cells. UVB can also damage the eyes and the immune system.
- Ultraviolet C (UVC). UVC is the strongest type of UV radiation. However, these rays do not reach the earth’s surface because they are blocked by the ozone layer of our atmosphere. The only way a person can be exposed to UVC radiation is from an artificial source, such as a lamp. If a person is exposed, UVC rays can cause severe skin burns and eye injuries within a few seconds.
UV rays are at their greatest intensity during the late spring and early summer. Anthology communities’ programming, such as the Elements Life Enrichment program, allows residents to fill their lives with activities and hobbies they enjoy, both indoors and outdoors, throughout all hours of the day.
How Can Seniors Reduce Risks of Sun Exposure?
Sunlight has many health benefits, such as increasing our bodies’ vitamin D, and it is also linked to positive mood, good sleep patterns and general aging well. However, unregulated sun exposure without protection can lead to serious skin cancer conditions. Seniors should complete regular skin self-checks to combat and prevent dangerous skin conditions. Early detection is key. After a bath or shower, examine your skin, paying attention to moles, blemishes, freckles or other marks. Speak with your doctor if you notice any changes in these areas.
Make sure to prioritize UV safety in your daily routine by regularly wearing and applying sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. There are a variety of sunscreens to utilize, including creams, sprays and mists. When applying, protect sensitive areas and pay special attention to areas such as the face, neck and hands.
What Are the Best Sun Safety Tips for Seniors?
During the summer months, the UV rays are exceedingly strong. Spending extended time outdoors without taking the proper precautions can be dangerous for anyone, but especially for older adults. Seniors (and everyone!) should wear sunscreen every time they venture outside, and it is best to plan outside activities before noon or after 4 p.m. to avoid the sun’s harshest rays and reducing the chance of heat stroke.
Here are some sun safety tips for seniors to help reduce the risk of sunburn and skin cancer:
- Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 to prevent sunburn; reapply every two hours for the best protection.
- Enjoy the shade! Spending time under a tree, an umbrella or a covered porch can minimize exposure to the sun and to UV rays.
- Accessorize with warm-weather items, such as sun hats and sunglasses.
- Wear lightweight clothing that protects your skin. Breathable clothing offers protection from the sun’s rays and helps you keep cool. Look for linen and cotton shirts, shorts, capris and flowy pants when outfitting your summer wardrobe.
- Avoid the hottest part of the day and instead, enjoy the breezy nights and cooler early mornings.
- Sunburn is not the only risk for seniors during the summer; seniors are also prone to dehydration. One reason that seniors are likely to become dehydrated is because age-related changes can weaken older adults’ sense that they are thirsty.
How Can Seniors Stay Hydrated During the Summer?
The CDC recommends adults of all ages consume 48–64 ounces of liquid every day. Seniors should drink a glass of milk, water or other drinks with electrolytes at every meal.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can dehydrate you more quickly in the sun.
- Use reusable water bottles that are clearly marked so you can tell how much water you consume in a day.
- Add a refreshing kick by adding lemon, lime or berries to your water.
Enjoy foods with a high water content, such as cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon and berries. At Anthology communities, residents can explore dimensions of wellness by working closely with the in-house chef to ensure there are options and menu choices to keep them hydrated.
What Does Heat Stroke Look Like in Seniors?
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are most common in the summer. Heat exhaustion can include extreme thirst, weakness, or cold and clammy skin. If you are experiencing heat exhaustion, move to a cooler place to rest and drink plenty of water.
Heat stroke is considered a medical emergency and is much more serious. Signs of heat stroke include fainting; confusion; dry, flushed skin; and a rapid or weak pulse. If a senior is experiencing signs of a heat stroke, seek medical attention right away and move to a cooler environment, such as going indoors into air conditioning until help arrives.
There is much fun to be had during the summer at the Anthology Senior Communities, from enjoying fresh, locally sourced food through the various dining options to enrichment activities for overall well-being. Noting these sun safety tips for seniors can reduce heat-related illness and allow seniors to stay healthy throughout the warm summer months. Take time to rest, hydrate and protect your skin throughout these months, which will make for an enjoyable and fulfilling summer!
About Anthology Senior Living
At Anthology Senior Living, the care and happiness of our residents is our top priority. Our communities are committed to following our values to create a senior living experience based on hospitality. Our experienced caregivers work hand in hand with residents and their families to ensure needs are met, concerns are addressed, health issues are supported and information is shared openly.
Interested in finding an Anthology Senior Living community near you? Try our location finder! Want to talk to a member of our team, learn more about our communities and ask any questions that come to mind? Contact us today!