It seems like the sun is shining brighter and brighter every day as we continue to approach the beautiful New England summer. May has been treating us to some lovely days and the urge to spend time outdoors is high — whether to socialize with family after months of COVID isolation, to start the garden at home, or just revel in the sunshine — many of us are heading outside, including our elderly loved ones and patients. There’s no doubt that spending time outdoors is a health benefit to all, and we should encourage our loved ones to spend time outside this spring and summer. However, it’s important to ensure that while we’re outdoors, we take precautions to protect ourselves and loved ones from too much sun exposure and the risk of elderly skin cancer.
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. The rate of skin cancers is increasing in the elderly population for a variety of reasons, including longer life expectancy for folks who have spent their lives basking in the sun (sunscreen has only really become popular in the last 20 years) and other factors, such as under treatment due to age and existing medical conditions in elderly patients (via). One in five adults will develop skin cancer in their lifetime (via). However, skin cancers are an avoidable issue when proper prevention is used! We’ve put together some tips to maximize you and your loved ones’ time outdoors while also ensuring you stay safe.
Yes, we know this one is a no-brainer, but it’s crucial! Remember to apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before sun exposure, and try to use one with an SPF of 30 or higher. For those of you taking care of elderly family members or patients, you may need to help them apply sunscreen. Spray on sunblocks are an easy way to get even, quick coverage and generally are less sticky and messy than traditional lotion screens. We like this spray-on sunscreen from Neutrogena, as well as this one from Aveeno. Prefer lotion? Try La Roche Posay Lotion Sunscreen. Don’t forget to reapply every two hours! Sunscreen is key in helping prevent elderly skin cancer.
Wear Protective Clothing
Try to avoid the peak sunshine of the day, which happens between 10 AM – 4 PM. If your elderly loved ones want to spend the afternoon outside, make sure they have protective clothing on — wide-brimmed hats that shade the face and long-sleeved sun covers are great to protect exposed skin. Eyes can be susceptible to UV damage as well, so bring a pair of sunglasses to protect the eyes.
Get Checked Regularly
Doctors should check for any signs of skin cancers during regular checkups, and it is always fair to request them to do so if you feel like they may have overlooked any spots on your relative or patient’s skin that could be skin cancer. At-home checks are also a good way to monitor — look for growths that have irregular borders, varying colors, or increasing size. If you find anything like that, let the doctor know so it can be further evaluated.
We hope you enjoy the sun this weekend! Take some time to soak it all in, safely and prevent elderly skin cancer. As always, Abundant Home Health Care is here to support you and your loved ones. If you are in need of home care assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out.