It’s important for seniors to stay safe in the sun

Sun safety is important for everyone. However, older people can be particularly vulnerable to sunburn, dehydration and sunstroke. But if you stick to the following sun safety tips for seniors you can stay safe and well and enjoy the sunshine.

Why older people need to be careful in the sun

Older people can be particularly sensitive to excess heat and the sun’s rays. This is because seniors have fragile skin and may also be more vulnerable to becoming dehydrated or suffering heat exhaustion.

Our sun safety tips for seniors

1. Cover up

As we age, our skin becomes thinner which allows UV rays to penetrate more deeply. In addition, our ability to repair damaged cells diminishes. This can increase our risk of abnormal cell growth and skin cancer. In addition, some medications can make us more sensitive to the sun.

However, these risks are easily avoided by covering up. Wear light but thickly woven natural fabrics to keep you cool and protected. Always use at least SPF 30 sunscreen on any exposed areas of skin. Apply the sunscreen half an hour before you go out and take it with you so you can reapply as necessary. Finish with a hat to keep the sun off your face and protect your scalp.

2. Stay hydrated

Dehydration can be dangerous, so it is important to stay hydrated. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to have a drink. Instead, sip water regularly throughout the day. Always take a bottle of water with you if you go out for a walk or in the car. You will need to drink more when the weather is hot and if you are taking exercise.

Symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Feeling thirsty
  • Dark and strong-smelling pee
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Feeling tired
  • Dry mouth, lips and eyes
  • Peeing very little and fewer than 4 times a day

3. Keep cool

It’s lovely to enjoy the sunshine, but we should not bake ourselves in hot sunshine for hours. It is best to avoid sitting or working out in the sun between 10 am and 4 pm on sunny days. Instead, find a place in the shade. If you begin to feel too hot, lightheaded, tired or thirsty,  go inside for a while and have a drink of water.

4. Wear sunglasses

Protecting our eyes from the sun is as important as protecting our skin. Sunglasses protect your eyes from the sun’s damaging rays. Not all sunglasses are the same, though. You should choose sunglasses with 100% UV protection, or UV 400 rating to protect your eyes properly.

5. Look for skin changes

It is important to check your skin regularly for changes. If you do notice any changes, speak to your doctor as soon as possible. You should definitely see your doctor if you spot a mole that is:

  • Asymmetrical
  • Has irregular borders
  • Is a strange colour
  • Has a diameter larger than a pencil eraser
  • Or that has evolved or changed in any way

A handy way to remember this is to look for the ABCDE’s.

6. Get enough vitamin D

It can be confusing knowing how much sun exposure is safe for us. We know we must protect ourselves from sunburn, but we also know our bodies need sun exposure to make vitamin D.  For most people, 10 to 30 minutes of sunlight several times a week is enough to ensure you keep vitamin D levels topped up. The amount you need depends on your skin as darker-skinned people tend to need more exposure and fairer skins can be more vulnerable to burning. You should also take a vitamin D supplement to ensure you are getting enough vitamin D.

If you are not sure what is the right amount of sun exposure for you, speak to your doctor or health professional.

We’re here to help

If you or a loved one need help and support to make the most of life, Mumby’s can help. Our live-in carers can ensure you can stay in your home and live as independent and fulfilling a life as possible.

If you’d like more information about how Mumby’s friendly and knowledgeable Live-in Care team could support you or your family call us on 0800 505 3511 or email info@mumbys.com.