If your loved one requires senior care at home, you may be actively working with them to get them up and moving in an attempt to add more physical activity into their senior care routine. Often, that includes taking them outdoors, into the elements, where sunshine and fresh air both invigorate the senses and offer a change of scenery.
Spending time outdoors has great benefits such as improving overall health and well-being, however, too much ultraviolet light exposure from the sun can increase your senior’s risk of developing skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the United States.
There are three types of skin cancer, and the majority of the cases of the three types are caused by overexposure to ultraviolet light.
-Basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma are the two most common types of skin cancer and are highly curable but can be expensive to treat and often can be disfiguring.
–Melanoma is the third most common type of skin cancer and is also the most dangerous form which causes the most deaths.
There are ways that you and your senior can decrease their risk of developing skin cancer by limiting the amount of ultraviolet light exposure that they get on a daily basis.
Other ways include:
- Use an appropriate sunscreen. These days the choices can be overwhelming, not to mention the often conflicting information we hear about which sunscreens are actually good for the skin. Talk to your senior’s dermatologist if you have specific questions, but a guide to follow would be to ensure that you are using a daily sunscreen that offers UVA/UVB broad-spectrum protection with an SPF of at least 15 or higher and apply it all over the body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply as necessary, especially with contact with water or excessive sweating.
- Do regular skin exams. It is important to have a relationship with a dermatologist who can keep a watchful eye on any skin issues or conditions that your senior may have. Scheduling regular head-to-toe skin exams with them can go a long way in catching skin cancer in the early stages, and if you see any spots on your senior, that are new or worrisome, make an appointment with their doctor right away.
- Stay in the shade. Being outdoors is important for a number of reasons, as is getting regular physical activity. It is a good idea to make sure that your senior is able to stay in the shade as much as possible to avoid things like overheating, as well and overexposure to the sun’s rays.
- Cover up. While outside, encourage your senior to protect themselves from UV rays by wearing long sleeves or pants when appropriate and wearing wide-brim hats and sunglasses.
Seniors need protection from the sun year-round, not just during the Summer or on especially sunny days. UV rays from the sun can still reach the skin on cloudy days and can also reflect off of surfaces such as water, cement, sand, and even snow!