Being out in the sunshine is a summertime tradition. Research shows that a majority of seniors rank being outside as one of the activities that bring them the most joy. But it’s important to practice sun safety when it comes to protecting our skin and enjoying the long summer days safely. Skin cancer is the most common of all cancer types. About one third of all new cases of cancer in Canada are skin cancers, and the rate continues to rise. It is the most preventable.
For seniors, these prevention strategies are even more important than at any other age. For most people, skin cancer is a result of a series of sun damage events that occur throughout one’s life. It makes sense that someone with more years of living would be exposed to more sun damage over time.
Between 40% and 50% of Canadians who live to age 65 will have skin cancer at least once.
Every suntan and sunburn has the potential to contribute to future skin cancer. Factor in the increase in outdoor activity that some seniors embrace in retirement, and the fact that older adults have more sensitive skin, and it’s easy to see why skin cancer may be a concern for older adults.
Taking a few precautions to prevent skin damage can allow seniors to continue to enjoy the sunshine without worry:
- Avoiding the hottest time of the day – From 10am-4pm, the sun’s rays are the most intense. To avoid too much sun exposure, seniors should plan outdoor activities for the morning or evening. Seniors worried about dehydration, which can be made worse by excessive sweating, should also avoid being outside during the hottest part of the day.
- Having the appropriate cover – Planning ahead to ensure that there will be shade available is an important step to avoiding sun damage. For outside activities that don’t take place in areas with accessible shade, a hat or parasol can provide some protection. Sun-safe clothing can also help – this can include long sleeve shirts and/or long pants. And, it’s important for seniors to build the habit of always wearing sunglasses when they are outside.
- Remembering to use sunblock – For seniors that will be spending any time exposed to the sun, sunblock that is at least SPF 30 is a necessity. Sunblock should be re-applied every two hours and immediately after water activities.
- Practicing medication safety – Seniors should talk to their physician about medications before participating in outdoor activities. Some prescriptions can cause increased sun sensitivity, and additional precautions may be necessary.
- Knowing the signs of skin cancer – Seniors should ask their doctor to conduct an annual skin cancer assessment. Early detection is critical for treating skin cancer quickly and effectively.
Comfort Keepers® Can Help
For seniors that want to get outside and enjoy the summer safely, the trusted care team at Comfort Keepers® can help. Our caregivers can assist with transportation to appointments and events, can ensure warm weather safety inside and outside of the home, and can support physician-prescribed exercise and activity regimens. Our goal is to see that clients have the means to find the joy and happiness in each day, regardless of age or acuity.
To learn more about our in-home care services, contact your local Comfort Keepers location today.
Government of Canada. “Skin Cancer.” Web. 2018.
Skin Cancer Foundation. “The Sun Keeps Rising: Why Seniors Can’t Skip UV Protection.” Web. 2015.
Aging and Disease. “Skin Cancer Epidemics in the Elderly as an Emerging Issue in Geriatric Oncology.” Web. 2017.
Cancer.Net. “Skin Cancer (Non-Melanoma): Risk Factors and Prevention.” Web. 2018.
American Academy of Dermatology. “Skin Cancer.” Web. 2018.