Summer is here and whether you hear the golf course calling your name or plan to lose yourself for a day of strolling through a park or tending to your garden, take the time to prepare for a day in the sun.
While the vitamin D we produce from exposure to the sun does our body and minds a world of good, especially when it comes to the absorption of Calcium for bone health, too much sun without the right protection can have detrimental effects on our health - even more so for seniors like you and me. It turns out that as we age, some of the mechanisms that protect our bodies from heat don’t work as well as they used to. For example, some become less aware of their thirst and dehydration sets in before they know it. Some perspire less than they used to, reducing their ability to naturally cool their bodies.
Here are a few of the tips I follow to stay safe in the summer sun:
Dress for success
With the high heat and humidity it’s tempting to get out the door in the bare minimum just to stay cool. However, covering up can actually be a smarter choice, as counter intuitive as it sounds.
Choose light colored clothing to reflect the sun. Natural fibers like cotton and linen are your best bet, they breath better than synthetics. That said, clothing designed especially for sun protection offers both the breathability and the coverage of sunblock, similar to that of up to 50 SPF in some cases. These items can be a little pricier but are well worth the investment in a climate like ours.
Cover your head. Shop for a hat you love or carry a compact umbrella. In fact, I keep a few stored all over for convenience. In my car, by my chair on my patio, and beside the front door for easy access when I head out for a walk.
Don’t forget the sunglasses. Sun damage to the eyes can expedite vision loss and for those of us advanced in age this happens more rapidly.
Sunscreen. Don’t leave home without it.
Did you know? More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined. While some have higher genetic risk factors than others, we are all susceptible. The good news is that in most cases it is preventable.
Shop for a good quality sunblock, the higher the SPF the better. For the best protection it should be applied 30 minutes before heading out into the sun. This is another item you’ll want to keep at the ready. If you plan to be outside for a full day, it should be reapplied at least every two hours.
Know your medications.
Despite my doctor’s advice, I learned the hard way that some medications can impact my sensitivity to heat. Talk to your doctor and heed their warning to stay out of the sun or take extra precautions. You may be at higher risk for dehydration and heat stroke.
Plus, some medications become less effective when stored at warmer temperatures. Ask your pharmacist for the best way to store your medication. A move from the medicine cabinet to the refrigerator may be in order.
Drink plenty of water throughout the day and limit your consumption of coffee and alcohol, they can accelerate dehydration.
Talk to your doctor about the risk factors specific to you. Be safe and enjoy the summer with care!
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