From picnics and ball games to family reunions and more, the season of the sun is here. It’s a wonderful time of year for seniors to get outside and enjoy fresh air and family activities. However, seniors are at a high risk for sunburn and skin cancer, so family caregivers must take extra precautions to help their elderly loved ones avoid sunburn.

Seniors and UV Rays

Seniors are at a higher risk for sunburn for several different reasons. Many of them are on medications that increase sensitivity to UV rays and therefore they sunburn much more quickly than average. As the skin ages, it becomes thinner and dryer, which makes it more susceptible to sunburn. Plus, a lifetime of exposure to the sun breaks down the skin tissues, making it a higher risk for skin cancer. Finally, aging in general simply means that the skin’s defenses are weakened and it doesn’t recover as well form sunburns and other sun-related conditions.

When seniors experience sunburn, their skin doesn’t have the ability to heal itself as rapidly as when they were younger. Sunburn in an elderly person means more than discomfort and peeling. It can mean that their immune system weakens and they are more susceptible to infections, as well as skin cancer. That’s why it’s so important that seniors limit their sun exposure, because they are the most likely to sustain poor health and long-term skin damage if they are sunburned.

Sunburn Prevention Tips for Seniors

The best way to avoid sunburns in the elderly is to take precautions and prepare in advance of going outdoors. Fortunately, there are several things that family caregivers and elder care aides can do to help the elderly avoid sunburns and further exposure to damaging UV rays.

The first thing to do is purchase a good broad spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF. The higher the number on the bottle, the better it will protect the elderly loved one from UVB and UVA rays. Sunscreen should be applied before going outdoors, and reapplied every two hours regardless of the activity. If the senior is swimming or exercising, the sunscreen should be applied every hour.

Choosing the right time of day to be outside is important. The sun’s rays are the strongest between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Even cloudy days require precautions, because most people can still get sunburns through cloud cover. Seniors should always wear a hat with a brim that shades the face, like ball caps, straw hats, canvas bucket hats and floppy garden hats are ideal. If the elderly loved one will be sitting outside for a while, it should be in a shady spot instead of in direct sun.

Sun Protection Means Better Health For Seniors

When family caregivers really focus on sun protection for seniors, they need to pass instructions on to other family members, elder care aides and others about helping their elderly loved one be smart about sun exposure. When seniors take advantage of all the preventative methods to avoid sunburn, they boost their chances of avoiding any health issues associated with UV ray exposure. It’s yet another way that seniors can stay as healthy as possible.


For elder care in Turnersville, NJ, and the surrounding areas, call and talk to us at Home to Stay Healthcare Solutions (856) 321-1500.