Summertime Tips for Seniors
Summertime Tips for Seniors
Summertime is in full swing, and with it, lots of time spent outside in the sun and heat. The living might be easy, but the sun is at its strongest this time of year, and with the effects of climate change, it’s more important than ever to take care of ourselves outside during the summer months. We all know we need to protect our skin from too much exposure to the sun, but as we age, our skin’s needs change, just like the rest of our body. As July is UV Awareness Month, we here at Greystone Health have some tips to keep you healthy and feeling cool while still being able to enjoy catching those rays.
Sunlight is divided into UVA (long wave ultraviolet) and UVB (short wave ultraviolet) rays. UVA rays penetrate deeply into the skin’s thickest layer, known as the dermis. Unprotected exposure can lead to premature skin aging, wrinkling, and potential suppression of the immune system. UVB rays will usually burn the superficial layers of your skin and plays a key role in the development of skin cancer.
You may think a simple layer of SPF 30 sunscreen will be enough to enjoy your walk in the park, but your skin needs more than that. First of all, it’s important to take care of your skin from the inside out. Make sure you’re eating enough foods that have a naturally higher moisture content and are rich in antioxidants, like green vegetables, melons, berries, walnuts, salmon, and avocados. It’s also essential that you drink plenty of water throughout your day; as we age, we lose the ability to recognize thirst, which can lead to dehydration. Make it a habit to sip either flat or carbonated water; if you don’t enjoy plain water, you can add flavor as well as additional nutrients with some refreshing lemon or cucumber slices. If you need, set a timer for every 25 minutes to remind yourself to take a swig, even if you don’t feel thirsty. The additional hydration will not only do wonders for your skin, but your digestive system as well.
Keeping your skin moisturized and healthy will also help your body regulate its temperature during the summer months, and this starts with your shower or bath. Avoid harsh soaps and body scrubs; use a body wash with Vitamin E and keep the water temperature warm, but not too hot. Once you’ve finished and dried off, liberally apply your sunscreen to all exposed skin. You may want to get a special sunscreen for your face and one for your body, as some sunscreens can be too heavy for facial skin. Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 45 or higher, and make sure you carry it with you to reapply throughout your day as necessary.
Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun no matter what time of day you’re out and about, but especially try to be indoors during the hours of 10 a,m and 2pm, when the sun is at its strongest and the temperatures tend to reach their peak. When you do go out, be sure to dress appropriately. Hats can do wonders to keep the sun off of your face and the top of your head, but be sure to choose one that’s a light color and made of a breathable fabric. Dark colors absorb the heat of the sun’s rays and make cause you to feel hotter than it actually is, so choose a lightweight hat that’s not just flattering, but functional. Sunglasses are also obviously vital for protection, whether or not you need a prescription. Even the most basic ones you can find at a drugstore offer 100% UVA/UVB protection, so pick up a few pairs to have on hand.
Never leave the house without a full bottle of water. We encourage the purchase of reusable water bottles, as they’re not only more green, but they often are equipped with straws to make sure getting your sips in is as easy as possible. Keeping it with you, even indoors. will also be a good visual reminder to keep drinking that water.
One major concern facing older people during the summer is heatstroke, which occurs after prolonged exposure to heat, often combined with dehydration, causing the body to no longer regulate its core temperature. It’s important to recognize the symptoms so that you can get treatment as soon as possible:
- Throbbing headache
- Dizziness and light-headedness
- Lack of sweating despite the heat
- Red, hot, and dry skin
- Muscle weakness or cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat, which may be either strong or weak
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Behavioral changes such as confusion, disorientation, or staggering
Heatstroke must be treated as soon as possible. If you or someone with you experiences heatstroke, call 911 immediately and move to an air-conditioned or shady spot if possible, and remove all unnecessary items of clothing. Avoid using ice to cool down, as that has been shown to worsen the condition of older people. Take slow, calming breaths and try to sip cool (not too cold) water.
Summertime should always be a fun time. At Greystone Health, we are invested in your total well-being and want you to enjoy all the benefits of an active lifestyle for as long as possible. We hope these tips will encourage you to get out there for some fun in the sun!