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The Heat is On: Protecting Seniors from the Sun’s Harmful Rays

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July is UV Safety Month, and we’re here to help spread the word about the importance of sun safety, especially for seniors. We raise awareness about the dangers of too much sun exposure and share tips on staying protected in the sun. Read on to learn how to protect yourself and your elderly loved ones from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

What Are the Risks of Too Much UV Exposure?

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation from the sun. UV rays are invisible to the naked eye and are divided into two types: UV-A and UV-B.

  • UV-A rays have long wavelengths that penetrate deep into the skin and can cause premature aging, wrinkles, and some skin cancers.
  • UV-B rays have shorter wavelengths that damage the outer layer of skin. These rays are the main cause of sunburns, leading to skin cancer.

People of all ages should protect themselves from too much sun exposure. UV rays can lead to several problems, including cataracts, premature aging, eye damage, immune system suppression, skin cancer, and other illnesses.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, seniors are at an increased risk for developing skin cancer due to their thinner skin, which provides less protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays. In addition, seniors are also more likely to have chronic illnesses that can make them more sensitive to the sun.

What Can Older Adults do to Stay Safe in the sun?

If you’re caring for an elderly loved one, there are things you can do to help them stay safe in the sun. These include:

eldersEnsure they’re wearing sunscreen: Apply sunscreen to your loved one’s skin before they go outside. The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) new guidelines for sunscreen require that all products provide broad-spectrum protection (protection from both UVA and UVB rays) and have a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.

Encourage them to wear sun-protective clothing: Wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and a wide-brimmed hat can help protect your loved one from the sun. However, be sure to choose clothing that is loose-fitting and made of lightweight fabrics.

Plan outdoor activities wisely: Try to plan outdoor activities for the cooler hours of the day, such as early morning or evening. If they have to be in the sun, ensure they’re in the shade as much as possible.

Ensure they wear sunglasses: Wearing sunglasses that block out 99% to 100% of UV rays can help protect your loved one’s eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.

Keep them hydrated: Seniors can become dehydrated quickly, so it’s essential to ensure they drink plenty of fluids. Of course, water is the best choice, but if your loved one is not a fan of water, juice or sports drinks can also be helpful.

Know the signs of heat-related illness: Signs may include heavy sweating, pale skin, muscle cramps, tiredness, headache, nausea, and dizziness. If you see any of these symptoms, get your loved one out of the sun and into a cool, shady area immediately.

Check their medications: Some medications can make elderly skin more sensitive to the sun’s rays. These include antibiotics, antihistamines, diuretics, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). If they’re taking any of these medications, talk to your doctor about how to protect their skin.

What Are We Doing at Tribute to Protect Our Residents from UV Radiation?

untitled 7We understand the importance and dangers of UV radiation to seniors, which is why we have taken steps to protect your loved ones. We have designed our outdoor areas to encourage our residents to participate in our outdoor activities while protecting them the best we can. We have several covered outdoor areas, such as our raised gardens in our covered atrium. We also have installed specialty fan systems throughout our custom-built atriums that allow our residents to sit outside and engage in the community while conversing with other residents and staff members, safely. 

Help Keep the Senior In Your Life Protected

Following these tips can help your elderly loved one enjoy the outdoors while staying safe from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Remember, it’s necessary to take precautions all year round and not just during summer. 

If you are a caregiver to a senior loved one, we offer a monthly caregiver support group that connects caregivers and provides the tools needed to know when it’s time to transition to assisted living. The support group meets on the last Thursday of every month and will be virtual until further notice. We’d love to see you there and are always here to help!

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