Spring's mild temperatures provide a tempting invitation for seniors to soak up the Texas sun, but care should be used before they step outside. Skin damage can occur quickly, even in filtered sunlight, and because skin becomes more vulnerable with age, seniors are especially at risk.
Planning ahead ensures seniors can protect themselves from the sun with just a few simple measures and keep their time spent outside both comfortable and safe.
A senior's wardrobe is one of their first lines of defense against sunburns and overexposure. Floor-length pants and long-sleeve shirts with high collars keep the sun off the skin.
Though it may be tempting in hot weather to choose the lightest articles of clothing in your closet, thin materials provide less protection. One test is to hold the shirt up to a light source, because the amount of light that shines through is a good indication of how much sunlight will pass through as well.
One of the easiest ways seniors can ward off damaging UV rays is to put on a hat as they leave their Bethesda Gardens apartment.
Hats should have brims at least three inches wide and extending all the way around. Baseball caps, for example, provide very little protection for the sides and back of your head and neck, but a similar hat with ear and neck flaps shades your entire head.
The array of available hat styles on the market allows seniors to have fun picking out something that suits their personality, and creative individuals can make their own head coverings unique by adding feathers, beads or fabrics.
Though sunglasses are a common symbol of summer, the protection they provide is equally important during the rest of the year. Studies have shown that overexposure to UVA radiation can worsen eye conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
When shopping for a new pair of sunglasses, seniors should look for lenses that block 99 percent or more of UVA and UVB rays. Sunglasses with oversized or wraparound styles also provide beneficial coverage for eyelids and skin directly around the eyes where sunscreen can't be applied safely.
Not all sunscreens are created equal, so it's important for seniors to research their best options or talk with their health care providers. Some of the most important things to consider when purchasing sunscreen are the SPF factor — aim for 30 or higher — and a broad-spectrum guarantee, which guards against both UVA and UVB radiation.
Water-resistance is necessary when swimming and during hot weather when seniors are sweating. Reading over the labels helps you determine how long the sunscreen works when exposed to moisture and how often to reapply.
Items such as awnings and patio umbrellas make it possible to sit outside without receiving direct exposure, even during the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when sunlight is the strongest. Glass, water, snow and sand can reflect sunlight, so seniors taking shelter in the shade should remain aware of their surroundings.
Seniors can also create their own shade with umbrellas or parasols rated for UV protection. These handy accessories come in many sizes and styles including ones that attach to wheelchairs and walkers.
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