Sun and Seniors: Too Much is as Bad as too Little

Senior Care Coral Gables, FL: Seniors and Sun
Senior Care Coral Gables, FL: Seniors and Sun

People over 65 have a tricky relationship to the sun. Many seniors retire to Florida where they don’t use enough sunscreen. Others stay inside and develop Vitamin D deficiencies. There are risks to overexposure to sunlight and risks for underexposure.  

Too little sun 

Aging parents sometimes spend all their time indoors. This could result from sickness or disability. Seniors are also at risk for agoraphobia, which is the fear of leaving their homes. Seniors rightfully wonder what will happen if they fall while outdoors, and they can become agoraphobic if they never go outside. Seniors in nursing homes are most at risk of getting too little sun.  

But senior care specialists tell us there are health risks associated with too little sun exposure. The most common problem is Vitamin D deficiency. Such a deficiency leads to more fragile bones, and more easily broken bones.  

Too little sunshine can also limit a body’s ability to process insulin effectively. Diabetes management may indicate a patient needs more sunshine. And being in the sun for five to ten minutes a day may also help prevent heart disease.  

In addition to all that, being out in the sun is good therapy for seniors at risk for depression.  Being outside promotes moderate exercise like walking which is also good for fighting depression and overall health.  

Too much sun 

While many seniors are suffering from Vitamin D loss, others are living dangerously in the sun. They are not wearing enough hats and sunscreen. This is bad because the risk of skin cancer does not decline with age. In fact, continued sun exposure into one’s seventies increases one’s cancer risk with every day of overexposure.  

The Centers for Disease Control note that, at 65, one can expect to live another twenty years. Reducing sunburn will help protect seniors from developing cancer very late in life. And the CDC also notes that 85 percent of seniors need to do a better job of protecting themselves from the sun. If your parent is outdoors for more than ten minutes a day on average, be sure to recommend sunscreen, long pants and long sleeves, hats, and rests in the shade.  

Home care aides can do a great job of making sure your mother or father is getting an appropriate amount of sunshine. These senior care specialists can accompany your parent on a walk outside or a cup of tea on the back porch. They can also give reminders about wearing hats and sunscreen for seniors who are spending a good amount of time in the sun already.  

In conclusion, seniors have not outlived their risk of skin cancer, whatever they may think. At the same time, seniors who could be described as “shut ins” are at risk of too little sun exposure. A few minutes of sun exposure a day is the easiest way to keep up a healthy amount of Vitamin D in one’s system. And Vitamin D is essential to a healthy body in many, many ways.  

If you or an aging loved-one is considering Senior Care in Coral Gables, FL please contact the caring staff at Elite Care At Home today at (305) 231-0555.