Summer Sun Safety Tips for Seniors

Summer is a time for enjoying the great outdoors! Unfortunately, the summer sunshine, UV rays and heat also can bring a few dangers, especially for seniors, including sunburn, eye damage, dehydration, heat exhaustion and more.

Below is a list of 8 things seniors can do to improve their safety during the hot summer months.

Drink plenty of fluids: Aim to drink 6 to 8 glasses of water per day. By the time you are thirsty, your body is already dehydrated. For seniors, the feeling of thirst decreases as we age, so be sure to increase your water intake if you are exercising or doing any type of prolonged physical activity. Of those fluids you are taking in, be sure they are non-alcoholic and decaffeinated. Carbonated sodas and pops may taste good, but they will only further your dehydration.

Pick the right outfit with accessories: When possible, wear loose, lightweight, and light-colored long sleeves to help protect your skin from sun, while also allowing your skin to breathe. Use wide brimmed hats to keep the sun off of your face and neck, as well as full coverage (wrap around) sunglasses for the best eye protection. Glasses that block UVA and UVB rays can help reduce the cumulative effect of damage linked to cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

Turn on your air conditioning: Air conditioning is important when it is hot and humid outside. During a heat wave, if you don’t have central air or a room air conditioner, spend part or most of each day at locations with air condition, including a friend’s house, shopping mall, senior center, or movie theater.

Be an early bird or night owl: The sun is strongest between 10 am and 4 pm. If you must be outside during a summer heat wave, limit your outdoor activity to the morning and the evening, when the temperature is lower and the sun is less intense.

Watch for heat stroke: It is extremely important to watch for signs of heat stroke, especially for seniors. Some signs to look for include confusion, disorientation, dry skin, excessive tiredness, headache, lethargy, nausea, and a rapid pulse. If you or someone you know experiences these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

Check on friends and family: Use the rising temperatures as an opportunity to catch up with your neighbors and relatives, especially the elderly and those who do not have air conditioning. Plan outings together in places that have air conditioning.

Review your medications: Many seniors use medications daily. Some medications can cause side effects, like increased sensitivity to ultraviolet (UV) rays. Review all medications and check with a doctor or pharmacist for any questions.

Wear sunscreen: Sunscreen is a major component to preventing sunburns. Look for a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays, and also have a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or more. Be sure to apply it about 15-30 minutes before exposure. If you’re enjoying water activities, be sure to reapply your sunscreen frequently. For more information on the benefits and facts on sunscreen, check out an article published by the EPA.

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