Summer Safety: Protecting Elderly from Heat and Sun
Warm summer weather and sunshine provide a perfect opportunity to spend more time outside, especially for elderly loved ones. However, too much sun and heat can cause serious health complications if not monitored properly. Carefully consider some of the potential complications and solutions of spending too much time outside in the sun. A major problem that can occur from too much sun exposure includes damage to the skin that could potentially lead to skin cancer. In the United States, 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day, and it continues to be a problem that should be carefully monitored. Additionally, dizziness, fainting, and eye damage can occur.
As adults age, they are likely taking one or more prescription medicines, such as diuretics, antibiotics, and antihypertensive drugs. These medications can increase their sensitivity to the sun. As a result, it is important to monitor their time spent outside. Look for severe sunburn, rashes, and augmentation of existing skin complications before taking them outside, and use the following tips to keep them as safe as possible.
Wearing sunscreen is just as important for older generations as it is for children and adults. A common misconception is that older people should not be concerned about their skin, but science proves the opposite is true. As skin ages, it becomes less able to protect itself from harmful UV rays. When caring for the elderly, encourage them to apply sunscreen on their skin when going outside.
When choosing a sunscreen, consider the SPF of the sunscreen and pick a brand with an SPF of at least 40. If the elderly person plans to swim while going outside, buy waterproof sunscreen. Apply the sunscreen before going outside and reapply after swimming.
The standard options to buy include lotion and nozzle spray sunscreen. Keep in mind that, to be effective, it needs to be reapplied every two hours. Sunscreen continues to be one of the best ways to protect the skin.
Hats provide sun protection. They can be designed to block out 98% of UV rays that would damage the skin. Hats with a wide circular brim will protect the back of the neck and head, as well as the face and eyes. Waterproof hats and hats with a chin strap to hold them secure are also available and will help shade the face and neck of any elderly person spending time outside.
The skin is often damaged by harmful UV rays from the sun, but the eyes can be in danger as well. The sun can cause vision impairment, a risk for blindness, and the potential for developing cataracts in the eyes. Sunglasses are an easy way to prevent these risks and take care of the elderly, who need even more eye protection.
Although they make a statement, sunglasses need to go beyond fashion sense. It is important to pick sunglasses that offer proper eye protection. Choose sunglasses with UVA and UVB light protection and filtration. Sunglasses that are polarized can help to reduce glare from surfaces that are flat, which may be helpful if looking at water, reading a book, or driving a car.
Sunglasses that are polarized with UV light protection are more expensive. However, they are worth the cost because they truly protect the eyes. Pair sunglasses with a wide brimmed hat for ultimate protection of the face, head, and eyes while outside.
One of the main considerations before caring for an elderly person in the sun is the time of year, time of day, and duration of the time spent outside. In the summer, temperatures are high and can cause fainting, dizziness, and dehydration, in addition to sunburn and eye damage. Drink plenty of water before going outside, and avoid the hottest time of the day from around ten a.m. to three p.m.
As a rule, do not spend more than half an hour in direct sunlight, and consider even less time for the elderly. Sitting in a shaded area is a good way to spend time outside without the sun directly overhead.
Spending time outside in the sun is enjoyable at any age, but it is important to do so safely, especially for the elderly. Learn what medication each one is taking, watch for warning signs like sunburn, and use sunscreen, sun hats, and sunglasses.
Protecting loved ones while they are outside is the best way to safely have summer fun and enjoy the outdoors.