Due to health problems, medications, and skin changes that come with aging, older adults are more prone to increased skin sensitivity. Not to mention, there are years of sun exposure and other lifestyle factors like tobacco use that damage skin over time. However, it is nothing to be afraid of, in fact, both correlational and experimental research has shown that spending time outdoors and interacting with nature has cognitive benefits, positive social interactions, and overall increased happiness.
Senior Helpers San Mateo wants your loved ones to maintain their quality of life, so here are some tips to help prepare them for the sunshine safely and comfortably.
What to Consider While Spending Time Outdoors
Skin cancer predominantly affects older adults ages 65 and older which is why it's important to understand how to prevent it as well as regularly screen for it. Seniors are also vulnerable to heat stroke and heat rash due to their body's inability to adapt to higher temperatures quickly enough. Signs of heatstroke and rash include dizziness, confusion, sweating, and inflamed bumps on the skin. It goes without saying to always check the weather before heading outside, bring enough water, and apply sunscreen. You can read more about skin cancer here.
Common Symptoms of Skin Cancer
- Moles that have changed shape, color, or size
- Pink, red, or brown lesions
- Moles or lesions that are crusty
- Large brown spots with darker speckles
- Lesions that burn, bleed, or are painful
How to Protect Aging Skin Against Sunburn
Sunscreen should be worn every day and the sooner we start, the less risk we have of developing wrinkles, sunspots, and most importantly, skin cancer. It's never too late to start applying. Sunburns damage skin cells even more so than regular exposure. Not to mention, they are uncomfortable and painful. Here are ways to protect aging loved ones against sunburn:
- Wear sunglasses (yes, even our eyes can get sunburnt)
- Apply sunscreen daily and if you're outside, apply it every two hours
- Wear wide-brimmed hats
- Wear clothes that cover skin but are not too heavy
- Stay in the shade as often as possible
How to Treat Sunburns for Older Adults
On those really fun days, it's easy to forget the sunscreen. The second you notice any redness on a senior, move them to the shade and have them lather up. The sun dehydrates our bodies and increases the temperature of our skin, which is why we sweat--to cool off. This makes us lose water and electrolytes, so it's important to drink plenty of water. If your loved one is complaining of redness, burning, or swelling, have them take ibuprofen and sit with a cool cloth on the burnt area. Additionally, have them avoid direct contact with the sun the following week or two so that their skin can heal.
If you are concerned about any sunspots or damage, always seek the guidance of a dermatologist. At Senior Helpers San Mateo, we can provide the in-home and assisted living care your loved ones need. Whether it's companionship or a more medically complicated diagnosis like dementia, we have healthcare experts for every need.