Senior Sun Exposure
Did you know that your skin is the body’s largest organ? Your skin alone can weigh up to 8 pounds and cover about 22 square feet! Furthermore, your skin covers your body and protects the vital parts of your body and its insides. As such, it’s essential to protect your skin from harm. Many say that the sun is one of your skin’s biggest enemies. However, there are also many benefits of sun exposure, especially to seniors. It’s essential to find balance in sun exposure and how to do it safely.
The Risks of Sun Exposure
So, what are the risks? The sun can cause a myriad of problems for your skin, such as blemishes, loss of elasticity, wrinkles, and the big one: skin cancer, to name a few.
Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of skin cells. This abnormal growth occurs most often on skin exposed to the sun. Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma are the three major types. Early intervention is imperative, and it’s essential to have your skin checked for anything out of the ordinary.
Our body’s ability to regulate temperature properly becomes less efficient as we age. As a result, seniors are more prone to experience heat-related illnesses such as heatstroke. A senior may experience heat exhaustion, which is an early warning sign of stroke. Symptoms may include weakness, excessive sweating, tiredness, dizziness, muscle cramps, and headache. As it progresses, you may experience vomiting, nausea, fainting, and heat stroke, which can progress within 10-15 minutes. If a loved one is experiencing symptoms of heatstroke, it’s important to dial 911. While you wait, it’s essential to do what you can to cool them down, take them over to the shade, drink cold fluids, or place cold cloths on vital areas such as their wrists, armpits, neck, and groin.
Some medications can cause heat stress or other adverse effects, which can cause dehydration or prevent sweating. It’s important to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about how your medications may affect you and what to expect.
The Benefits of Sun Exposure
While there are risks to sun exposure, there are also many benefits too. See a few of the ways exposure to the sun can be beneficial for seniors.
Vitamin D comes naturally from exposure to sunlight. However, it’s one that many seniors are lacking. While Vitamin D-rich foods and supplements can be helpful, getting it directly from the sun is the best source. Vitamin D can help increase bone strength and combat conditions like osteoporosis.
Improved Mood & Sleep
Exposure to sunlight gives you a boost in serotonin, which regulates not only your sleep but also your memory, mood, and appetite. Furthermore, it also helps with regulating your circadian rhythm, which also enables you to sleep better.
So, with the risks and benefits in mind, it’s essential to make sure that you protect yourself when getting your needed dose of those beautiful sun rays. You can do so by spending your time outside in the shade. Furthermore, make sure not to spend prolonged time outside between noon and 4 p.m. as it’s the hottest part of the day. Wear a water-resistant sunscreen with a broad spectrum so that it protects you from both UVA and UVB rays. In addition, you should apply sunscreen generously and periodically. Wear light and loose clothing, and wearing a wide-brimmed hat can also protect your face and eyes. Whatever way you find yourself soaking up the rays this summer, do so safely!