Elderly man outside


Most of us look forward to summer all year long, especially those of us who live in colder climates. If you are planning an outdoor activity that will include senior citizens, such as a trip to the beach, a picnic in the park, or a cookout in your backyard, it’s important to take extra sun safety precautions.

Older adults are often more sensitive to heat. Sometimes it is because of a health condition, such as heart disease or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other times it is the result of a medication. Sun sensitivity can be a side effect of some medications commonly prescribed for seniors.

Aging brings another safety concern: skin health. As we grow older, our skin becomes thinner and more fragile, causing it to burn more quickly. Sun poisoning is also more common among seniors than younger adults.

To help everyone in the family safely enjoy the summer, we pulled together six leading safety tips for you to use and share.

1) Sunscreen

This generation of seniors rarely wore sunscreen growing up. That’s why they seldom wear it when they are outdoors or riding in a car. Sunscreen is the best way to protect fragile skin from sunburn and sun poisoning. Encourage the seniors in your life to apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 to 50 every two to four hours while they are outdoors.

2) Sunglasses

Sunglasses play a key role in sun safety and in protecting eyesight. Researchers say that faithfully wearing a quality pair of sunglasses can help protect the eyes from cancerous growths and from cataracts, a condition that occurs more frequently with age. Make sure your senior loved one has sunglasses that block 100% of both UVA and UVB rays.

3) Footwear

With aging comes thinner and more fragile skin, including on the tops and bottoms of the feet. While most of us want to wear attractive sandals in warm weather, it’s important for older adults to have quality summer footwear that fits well. They can protect seniors’ feet from cuts, burns, and falls.

4) Hat

The face and back of the neck are common places for skin cancer to develop.  Sunscreen is a must to protect those areas. It also helps to wear a hat with a brim that is wide enough to shield the face. Another option is a portable beach umbrella. It can offer additional shade to keep an older adult safe in the sun.

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5) Bug spray

Summer bugs are more than just a pesky problem. Some are linked to health concerns like Lyme disease and West Nile virus. Protect your guests by placing cans of strong bug spray in easy-to-access locations.

6) Hydration

Our last tip is to remind everyone attending your outdoor party to stay hydrated. Seniors have an especially tough time in the heat, often because their bodies don’t adjust to changes in temperature and humidity very quickly. This puts them at increased risk for dehydration. Medication side effects and health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, further exacerbate the problem. Make sure to set up a hydration station and stock it with ice, water, popsicles, and fruit.

We hope these tips keep you and those closest to you safe this summer!

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