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Protect Your Skin: Sun Safety for Seniors

June 1, 2022

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Soaking up the sun feels good! Getting your daily dose of vitamin D supports bone health, lowers blood pressure, prevents disease and promotes good mental health. However, too much sun can be dangerous and if you are not careful, it can have adverse, long-term effects on your skin.

The summer season kicks off this month, and the warmer weather means spending more time outside. Our team at Franciscan Ministries is sharing some skin care and sun safety tips for seniors to help you stay safe while having fun in the sun.

1. Seek Shade Whenever Possible

You don’t have to be in direct sunlight to reap the many benefits of being outside. Seeking shade whenever you spend time outdoors is a great way to reduce your risk of skin damage. Not only does shade give you a reprieve from the heat, but it can also help protect you from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.

If you plan to spend time outdoors, try to find shade whenever possible to protect your skin. For example, sit under a tree when visiting a park or use a canopy or umbrella when going to the beach. 

2. Wear Protective Clothing

As we age, our skin becomes thinner. Because of this, it is recommended that older adults opt for protective clothing in addition to applying sunscreen. Wearing loose-fitting, lightweight clothing that covers the skin can protect you from the sun’s damaging UV rays.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states, “when possible, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and skirts, which can provide protection from UV rays…Clothes made from tightly woven fabric offer the best protection…and darker colors may offer more protection than lighter colors.”

Additionally, wearing a wide-brimmed hat helps protect your face and neck and sunglasses can protect the delicate skin around your eyes.

3. Apply Sunscreen Generously

The most obvious tip for sun safety for seniors, or any person regardless of age, is to apply and reapply sunscreen. When used in conjunction with other skin care practices, sunscreen effectively prevents sun damage to your skin. 

When choosing a sunscreen, use a broad spectrum that protects against UVA and UVB rays with an SPF of at least 15. Apply sunscreen any time your skin is exposed to the sun, including on cool, cloudy days. Do not forget to reapply every couple of hours and immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.

NOTE: Something else about sunscreen that is worth mentioning is that it does expire, so make sure you check the expiration date before you lather up and spend the day in the sun!

4. Lather on the Lotion

Our skin is particularly prone to dryness as we grow older, and spending time in the sun can add to this dryness and cause irritation. To help keep your skin healthy and moisturized, regularly apply lotion. Key times to do this include after spending time in the sun and after a shower or bath. 

NOTE: Using too much soap, antiperspirant, or perfume and taking hot baths can make dry skin worse. Unscented, oil-free lotions and moisturizers are recommended if you have sensitive skin.

5. Check Your Medications

While this may not seem like a skin care tip, some medications, including certain antibiotics, antihistamines, diabetes medications and cholesterol-lowering drugs, can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun.

Another sun safety tip for seniors is to check the labels of any medications you are actively taking to see if they cause sun sensitivity before heading out to spend a long day under the sun. If you are taking a medication that increases sun sensitivity, seek shade and use a higher SPF sunscreen. In case of severe sensitivity, avoid direct sun exposure altogether and speak with your doctor.

At Franciscan Ministries, our senior living communities throughout Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio offer endless engagement opportunities for our residents to lead active, fulfilling lifestyles while ensuring their safety and well-being. We create programs that focus on the seven dimensions of wellness and provide unique opportunities for individuals to explore new interests and participate in exciting activities, including spending time in the great outdoors!

If you would like to learn more about our services and what our communities offer, we encourage you to visit our website or contact the Franciscan Ministries team today.