Now that it’s summer, many older adults will be spending more time outdoors. While there’s nothing quite as restorative as the touch of sun upon your skin, seniors should be careful.
Sunlight brings the possibility of UV damage, which can sometimes lead to skin cancer.
What Seniors Need to Know About Skin Cancer Prevention
Much of the skin cancer-causing UV damage to the skin occurs during childhood and adolescence. For this reason, some seniors are under the impression that, at their age, there’s nothing they can do about skin cancer.
That’s flawed and dangerous thinking. Seniors still need to protect their skin from sun damage.
Seniors can enjoy time in the sun, but they need to take extra steps to protect their skin. According to the National Skin Cancer Foundation, the aging process weakens the body’s immune system, while at the same time increasing the risk of skin cancer. They also tell us that with each new sunburn you experience, the risk of skin cancer goes up.
That’s why it’s never too late to protect your skin from the sun. As you’re about to see, there are several reasons for doing so, too.
UV Protection is Always Important for Good Health
Exposure to the sun can cause several types of skin damage. This occurs when the UV light in the sun damages the elastic in skin. That can lead to aging of the skin in the form of:
- skin cancer
As you get older, these symptoms can become worse, simply as a result of the body’s natural process of aging. There are, however, several simple techniques you can adopt to limit your risk of skin cancer.
Skin Cancer Prevention Tips
According to WebMD, skin cancer is largely caused by UV exposure. The methods for preventing skin cancer are very simple: protect your skin from the sun!
Here are some reminders:
- Apply sunscreen when you’re going to be in the sun. That also goes for seniors who live in the southern part of the country, when summertime can mean more time spent indoors. Even if your time outdoors is limited, summer’s stronger sun means you should still wear sunscreen.
- Apply enough sunscreen and apply it often. Many people make the mistake of buying a high SPF and thinking they don’t have to apply it as often because it’s stronger. No matter what the SPF, sunscreen needs to be applied every two hours. Use one full ounce with every application.
- Try and avoid the sun during peak hours. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 AM and 4 PM. Do gardening or take your walk early in the morning or in the evening.
- Wear protective clothing. Wear a hat and long sleeves. If you’ll be sitting in the sun, consider wearing pants, too. Look for a lightweight but dense weave fabric, which offers more protection. Some clothing comes with SPF built right in. The tops of feet are also vulnerable to sun damage so don’t forget to cover them or apply sunscreen.
- Always wear sunglasses. Your eyes are susceptible to UV damage, too. Always wear UVA/UVB sunglasses to protect your eyes from both types of rays.
- Check for suspicious growths. Learn to do a skin cancer check on yourself. Aim for a head-to-toe check once a month. Look for growths that have irregular borders, varying colors, or increasing size. The skin cancer foundation recommends scheduling a skin cancer check annually for the best chance of finding cancer in the early stages.
Summertime at Five Star Senior Living
Summer’s upon us. We hope these tips will help you and your loved ones enjoy your time outdoors. Here at Five Star Senior Living, we take a holistic approach to wellness. It’s all part of our Lifestyle360 program. Ask us about it when you call to set up a private tour.