How to Lower the Risk of Sunburns in Aging Adults

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As the warm weather approaches, seniors have abundant opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. However, sunny skies also raise the chance of sustaining sunburns. By taking a few precautions, you can help your aging loved one prevent the discomfort and damage caused by extensive sun exposure.

Why Seniors Face a High Risk of Sunburn

Older adults have a higher risk of sunburns for many different reasons. A senior’s skin is typically dry, thin, and fragile, which makes it susceptible to damage. The skin of young adults burns, peels, and heals. However, the protective covering does not heal as quickly or effectively in seniors. By compromising the barrier, older adults become more susceptible to infections and skin cancer, and their weakened immune systems also make them more likely to develop skin cancer.

Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality home care. Tucson families trust in Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably. 

Evaluate Over-the-Counter and Prescription Medications

Many seniors take medications or use topical preparations that make their skin more sensitive to sunlight or cause drug-induced photosensitivity. Consult with a healthcare provider or pharmacist to determine which formulations make your loved one vulnerable to sunburn. Extra precautions are necessary for seniors who use medications that raise the risk of sunburns. Some of the medications and treatments that pose potential issues include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Antihypertensives
  • Certain antibiotics
  • Certain herbs and vitamins
  • Diuretics
  • Fragrances
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Oral diabetic medications
  • Allergy medications
  • Transdermal patches

Apply Sunscreen

Before older adults venture outdoors, they should apply a high-quality sunscreen. The cream or lotion should offer protection against UVA and UVB rays and have a high SPF rating. It is best to reapply the sunscreen every two hours while outdoors. If your loved one engages in exercising or swimming, he or she should reapply the protection every 30 to 60 minutes to ensure coverage.

Wear Protective Clothing

Contrary to popular belief, sunburn is possible whether the sun is blazing or covered by clouds. Along with sunscreen, protective clothing keeps fragile skin safe. Ball caps protect the scalp and face. Wide-brimmed hats further shade the ears and neck regions. Seniors should consider wearing lightweight long-sleeved blouses or shirts along with full-length pants. Chronic sun exposure can also cause eye damage that leads to cataracts or macular degeneration. For this reason, seniors should always wear sunglasses with large, dark lenses to protect their eyes.

Older adults who need help getting dressed should consider professional in-home care. Tucson elderly care professionals can be a wonderful boon to seniors. Whether they require around-the-clock supervision or just need assistance with exercise and household tasks a few days a week, seniors can enjoy a higher quality of life with the help of trusted in-home caregivers. 

Limit Sun Exposure

The sun is at its peak from 10am to 4pm. If possible, your loved one should remain indoors during these hours, take extra precautions, or find shade to avoid direct exposure. The sun’s rays are also intensified on sandy beaches. Spring and summer are not the only times of year when precautions are needed. The sun can also cause damage during the winter months.

From applying sunscreen to getting dressed, older adults may require help with an array of tasks. Some seniors need occasional assistance at home, and oftentimes the family members who take care of them need time away to run errands, take a nap, go to work, or take a vacation. Tucson respite care experts from Home Care Assistance are available on an as-needed basis, giving your family peace of mind that your loved one will remain safe and comfortable while you relax or focus on other important responsibilities. To learn about our high-quality in-home care options, give us a call at (520) 276-6555 today.


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