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Sensational Sun: How to Enjoy the Summertime Benefits, While Understanding the Risks

senior women in her garden

Summer is here, so there is no better time to get outdoors and enjoy the warm air and sun’s benefits. The kiss of natural sunlight produces excellent health benefits, especially for seniors, such as improved sleep, reduced stress, lessens depression, and strengthens the immune system. Gardening, walking, and enjoying meals outdoors are just a few activities we can all enjoy in the summer that help us absorb the nutrients the sun supplies. However, too much sun and no protection can have hazardous effects on your health, especially your skin and eyes. Let’s explore some of the great benefits of sun exposure and tips on protecting yourself and your senior loved ones; and how Tribute is doing the same.

When exposed to sunlight, the brain increases the release of serotonin, boosting your mood and relaxing the mind and body. Alternatively, daylight sun exposure also promotes the release of melatonin, which aids in sleeping. Exposure to the sun helps regulate the body’s circadian rhythm, which tells your body when to increase or decrease melatonin production. Quality sleep becomes increasingly more important the older we get, making the summer months a great time to seek outdoor activities to help ensure a better night’s sleep. It’s been proven that just one hour outdoors in the morning will help improve your sleep.

And if the promise of better sleep isn’t appealing enough, the increased melatonin production caused by the sun’s rays helps decrease stress levels. An added bonus is that often when we are outdoors, we are more physically active, which also allows the mind and body to manage stress levels better.

Another positive benefit sun exposure brings is the extra absorption of vitamin D in the skin. Studies have shown that in 30 minutes, the human body can produce up to 50,000 International Units of vitamin D (this figure decreases based on your skin color/race), which satisfies the weekly amount recommended by the National Academy of Medicine. Vitamin D has many excellent health benefits, such as promoting healthy bones, supporting the immune, brain, and nervous systems, regulating insulin levels and improving cardiovascular health and lung function.

Scientists have also discovered that exposure to the sun may help treat skin conditions such as eczema, jaundice, and psoriasis, in small doses and while wearing sunscreen.

On the other hand, too much of anything can lead to adverse effects, so it is essential to take precautions to prevent the damaging effects of the sun. Our skin is the largest and most visible organ of the human body, and we expose it to every environmental factor we encounter, including ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. Unfortunately, though, we often neglect our skin, leaving it unprotected from the everyday routines of life.

What is UV Radiation?

The sun releases ultraviolet radiation. Different types of UV radiation have varying energy levels and strengths depending on the time of day, season, clouds, air content, and distance from the equator.

How does it affect our skin?

According to the CDC, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Moreover, according to research, people aged 65 and older are the most prone to skin cancer. Sun damage can occur in as little as 15 minutes, so it is vital to take preventive measures while enjoying the outdoors.

  • Wear sunblock and reapply every two hours if in direct sunlight.
  • Avoid long periods outside from 10 AM-4 PM when UV rays are most intense.
  • Cover skin with lightweight clothing and wide-brimmed hats.
  • Seek shaded areas or areas with indirect sunlight exposure.

How does it affect our eyes?

Our skin is not the only thing we need to protect from the sun. Our eyes are sensitive to light and need just as much protection. Too much exposure to UV rays can damage our eyes and lead to disorders, including:

  • Cataracts: UV exposure can increase the risk of cataracts where the eye lens loses transparency and can result in impaired vision.
  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD): An eye disease that blurs your sharp, central vision and can affect activities such as driving or reading. Sun exposure plays a role in AMD development and can be prevented with proper eye protection.
  • Snow blindness (Photokeratitis): This is a temporary disorder caused by over-exposure to UV rays while at the beach or in the snow that can cause swollen eyelids and decreased vision.

As we age, we experience many changes, and one of the most predominant changes can be found in the deterioration of our vision systems. This is why precautions are needed when exposing yourself to the sun, such as wearing sunglasses with UV-blocking lenses. These lenses offer central and side-eye protection from harmful UV rays. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat is ideal as it can help protect not only your eyes but your skin as well.

What is Tribute Doing to Protect my Senior Loved One from UV Radiation?

sun protection 1Sun protection is essential for seniors, who often have more fragile skin and compromised vision. At Tribute, we understand the sun’s vital importance and the potential dangers to seniors, which is why we take extra steps to protect your family and loved ones from harmful UV rays while still enjoying the benefits.

Tribute designed our outdoor areas to encourage residents to take part in the outdoor activities we offer. It’s essential for our residents’ social and emotional health, so we have taken precautionary measures to filter the sun’s harmful UV rays through our many covered outdoor areas.

sun protection 2Our residents can enjoy the freedom of gardening in raised garden beds, feel the breeze of our specially equipped fan systems, and be a part of conversation and community in our specially built atriums. Thankfully, they can still enjoy the benefits of the sun while being as protected as possible under the protective covering of our patios and atriums.

We also have onsite medical staff to assist your loved one with any questions regarding sun-related skin or eye concerns.

At Tribute, we care about your family and loved ones. We have taken extra precautions to allow our residents to enjoy the benefits of the sun limiting without the harmful exposure to UV rays with our excellent outdoor amenities. Contact us today to see how we promote science-based, healthy living and schedule a tour of our beautiful facility.

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Tags: Employee Spotlight

Categories: Memory Care

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