Senior Helpers encourages seniors and their families to be sun smart after new FDA sunscreen guidelines

By: Glen Scharfeld

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Each year, nearly a million people in this country will learn they have skin cancer…and the risk continues to rise as you get older. Senior Helpers, one of the leading in-home providers of senior care from Zephyrhills to Spring Hill, is raising awareness about new FDA guidelines regarding sunscreens, which apply to people of all ages, not just young children and adults.

“Unprotected skin can be damaged by the sun’s UV rays in as little as 15 minutes, according to the American Cancer Society,” says Glen Scharfeld, Owner of Senior Helpers of the Hernando/ Pasco area. “Most skin cancers appear after the age of 45 and it’s never too late to protect yourself from the sun. We encourage seniors to get some fresh air and exercise to stay active, but their skin is more sensitive than others. Even if they’re going outside for a short 15 minute walk, our caregivers are there to help them apply their sunscreen as needed.”

Sun protection is an important public health issue for people of all ages. The FDA just released their new guidelines when it comes to proper product labeling and UVA protection.

--There is no such thing as “sweat proof” and “waterproof” sunscreens. These words are no longer allowed on sunscreen labels.
--Sunscreens can claim to be “water resistant” but the company has to put a label on their product stating the sunscreen only offers 40 or 80 minutes of protection while swimming or sweating.
--You must reapply sunscreen every two hours for continued sun protection.
--Use sunscreens with UVA and UVB protection, also known as “broad spectrum” protection.
--Only broad spectrum sunscreens with 15 SPF or higher provide any type of sun protection (15 – 30 SPF is recommended).

“The sun doesn’t discriminate against age,” says Glen Scharfeld of Senior Helpers. “When seniors are exposed to too much sun, they risk being severely dehydrated. Our caregivers can make sure the seniors are eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, drinking water, or taking a cool bath to help prevent and/or recover from dehydration. They can also provide ways for seniors to socialize without having to be out in the sun, such as taking their daily walk inside malls or museums; or making sure they’re in the shade and properly protecting themselves while spending time outside. ”

To give seniors the gift of sun protection, wearing the correct attire when venturing outside is essential to limiting their sun exposure. Seniors should look for products that have earned the Skin Cancer Seal of Recommendation, such as special UV radiation-absorbing clothes, which the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends having an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of 30 or higher. Wrap-around sunglasses and a hat with a three-inch brim all the way around provide sun protection as well, not only for their head face and ears, but their neck, shoulders and upper back.

This story affects all seniors and their families in the Hernando/ Pasco area. Help us spread the word about skin cancer and sun safety for senior citizens. We are happy to set-up interviews to help move this story forward for your audience.

For more information on Senior Helpers and to find out more about local in-home care services,



Sources: American Cancer Society, the Skin Cancer Foundation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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