Sun Safety Tips for Seniors
As the heat of the summer drags on, it’s important to keep sun safety in mind. (Though in a sunshine state like Arizona, sun safety is really a year-round commitment!) July also happens to be UV Safety Awareness Month.
Fellowship Square offers seniors the following sun safety tips.
According to the American Cancer Society, “most skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays.” This can come in many forms, so the sun is not the only one to blame! UV exposure can come from indoor tanning beds and sun lamps, and “people who get a lot of exposure to UV rays are at greater risk for skin cancer.”
It’s important for seniors to realize that the strength of the sun’s UV rays reaching the ground can vary based on a number of factors. For example, UV rays are strongest in the middle of the day, between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., and UV rays are also strongest during spring and summer months. Seniors should take precautions when they’re in the sun during these times and dates, avoid it during these peak times, stay in shady areas and wear sun-protective clothing (hats, sunglasses, long sleeves, and pants).
Wearing sunscreen is also another important aspect of sun safety, and in fact can help prevent “photoaging,” which is more of the cause of wrinkles, fine lines, and skin pigmentation or discoloration than age! In fact, the Skin Cancer Foundation, “Responsible for 90 percent of visible changes to the skin, photoaging is a direct result of cumulative sun damage you’ve been exposed to throughout your life.”
Seniors might consider sunscreen the actual “bottle of youth” that so many seem to search for — and apply sunscreen generously and often. The Skin Cancer Foundation also reports that more than half of skin cancer-related deaths happen to people over the age of 65.
Most people don’t think about putting on sunscreen for a quick trip to the grocery store, an early morning walk, or a few minutes spent outside chatting with a neighbor. However, damage to skin by UV rays can occur in just 15 minutes! Especially in a sunny area like Arizona, people should apply sunscreen every day as part of their usual routine. Consider an everyday lotion that contains an SPF such as Aveeno Protect + Hydrate Sunscreen with SPF 60.
Speaking of SPF, numbers matter! And while higher SPF numbers do mean more protection, the higher the number the smaller the difference becomes. The American Cancer Society explains it like this “SPF 15 sunscreens filter out about 93 percent of UVB rays, while SPF 30 sunscreens filter out about 97 percent, SPF 50 sunscreens about 98 percent, and SPF 100 about 99 percent.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only about 15 percent of older adults use all five kinds of sun protection (including staying in the shade, using sunscreen, wearing a wide-brimmed hat, wearing clothing to the ankles, and wearing a long-sleeved shirt). And nearly 18 percent of older adults (and 15 percent of sun-sensitive older adults) said they didn’t use any kind of sun protection regularly. An article the CDC’s website states that improved use of sun protection and reduced sunburns “among older adults would likely help to reduce skin cancer risk in later decades of life.”
Fellowship Square encourages seniors to make sun safety a priority — starting now! There is no better time than during UV Safety Awareness Month to commit to protecting one’s self from the sun and reducing the risk of skin cancer.