Summer Sun Safety Guide for Active Seniors

Sun safe SeniorsSeniors, no matter what your age you should be able to enjoy the outdoors, golf, bike, swim, and have fun in the sun! But first get savvy about ways to stay safe during the Summer season and South Florida heat-wave. Remember medical conditions and certain medications can change your body’s response to heat or make you sensitive to sun exposure.

As we get older, our bodies handle heat less efficiently and certain prescription medications can interfere with temperature regulation and the ability to perspire. So stay hydrated, and don’t over exert yourself when outdoors. Medications can also affect your sensitivity to sunlight, so slather on the sun screen, keep your sun hat and sunglasses handy, and find some shade.

Separate the fact from the fiction first. Don’t believe that sunscreen products continue to block out the sun or stay on your skin no matter how wet and sweaty you get. Get rid of old sunscreen. It’s only good for about 3 years, and should last until the expiration date, but NOT if it has been exposed to extreme heat. A golf bag or a beach bag can both get pretty hot in July and August!

Higher SPF values (30 up to 50) provide greater sunburn protection, but buying a hat or clothing that deflects UV rays gives you even more protection. Keep in mind that “waterproof” sunscreen is now called more realistically “water-resistant.” Depending on how often you dunk in the water, it will need to be reapplied about every hour or so.

Look for labels that read “broad spectrum” because these truly protect against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. UVB rays cause sunburn, UVA rays age and wrinkle skin. Both contribute to skin cancer!

Sprays may seem easier, but lotion gives better coverage. Always apply sunscreen before you go out in the sun, so when Sun safe Seniorsyou leave the house you are already protected when you get to the golf course, beach or pool.

Consumer Reports says 40% of the sunscreens recently tested by their experts didn’t live up to the brands’ SPF claims! One of the 2016 “Sunscreen Winners” with a perfect score was Trader Joe’s Spray with an SPF of 50+ which costs $6 for 6 ounces. Other winners in the top ten were Aveeno Protect & Hydrate SPF 30, at $3.33 an ounce; Banana Boat Sun Comfort Continuous Spray SPF 50+, at $1.67 an ounce; and Neutrogena Beach Defense Water & Sun Protection SPF 70, at $1.62 an ounce.

Keep in mind if you are outdoors, sunglasses should be more than a fashion statement! UV rays have been linked to cataracts and macular degeneration. Even inexpensive sunglasses can be effective. Medium to dark lenses are fine for most outdoor activities. Look for something that blocks 95% of UVB, 60% of UVA, and 60% to 90% of visible light. Most sunglasses will fit the bill, but don’t assume that just because a lens is almost black it’s blocking UV light. Check the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) label. When you wear darkened lenses, the pupil opens more to let in more light. If your sunglasses aren’t rated to block UV rays, you could be doing more harm than good.

Summer safety tips for SeniorsA poor fitting pair of sunglasses can let UV rays seep onto your skin and into your eyes. make sure the frames you choose line up with your brow. Sunglasses that wrap around your eyes are best for blocking stray UV light. Polarized lenses reduce glare but don’t take the place of UV protection!

Beware of other vacation wreckers besides dehydration and heat exhaustion or sun damage to your skin and eyes. These include flip flops which can be a fall hazard, not keeping picnic foods cold enough, unsafe barbecue grills, rip currents, swimming without a lifeguard present, insect bites and of course Zika, heat stroke, mixing boating with alcohol, etc. More on these items next month! In the meantime, you may want to read Regal’s article, “Tips for Travelling with Seniors,” or “Safety for Seniors in the Sun.”

Contact Us: Why shouldn’t Seniors enjoy the great outdoors? Just be sure the Senior in your life is smart when out in the Summer sun and savvy about protection and hydration whether at home or on vacation. Remember Regal caregivers can serve as a respite companion for your elderly loved one while you are away on vacation, or can accompany the Senior relative on a family trip or excursion to ensure they are looked after if there are healthcare issues or medical protocols that need following. Contact Ferial Andre, RN, CCM, CDP, for more information at 561-499-8382 or

This article is not intended as medical advice.

Sunday, June 26, 2016 @ 02:06 PM