Integrity Point of View Articles

How to Prevent Sunburn While Caring for Your Elderly Relative


According to the American Academy of Dermatology, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. On average, 1 in 5 Americans will develop the condition at some point during their lifetime. Young children and older adults are two demographics of people that are particularly at risk for sun damage. 


If you’re caring for an elderly relative, it’s important to take steps to prevent sunburn. Although skin cancer is a common condition, it’s completely avoidable. 


At Integrity Home Care +  Hospice, we care about the health and wellbeing of your elderly relative. So, let’s explore the risks of severe sunburns in older adults and provide some tips so you can help your loved one stay healthy and safe in the sun.


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Why Are Older Adults More Vulnerable To The Sun?

When a person is exposed to UV rays from the sun, they may get a sunburn, which is particularly dangerous. It only takes a handful of blistering sunburns to dramatically increase a person’s risk of getting skin cancer. What’s more, an elderly relative may be more likely to burn than a younger individual.


Seniors are more vulnerable to the sun than young adults or middle-aged adults for several reasons:


  • Older adults tend to have weaker immune systems, meaning they don’t respond to immune challenges as robustly as younger people. As a result, it’s more difficult for them to recover from inflammation and skin damage.
  • As we age, our body’s capacity to repair skin diminishes. Therefore, an older adult who gets a bad sunburn is unlikely to recover from it as quickly as someone younger.
  • Older adults’ skin is more fragile and thinner compared to younger people, making them more likely to burn faster and more severe sunburns after spending time in the sun.

Tips For Preventing Sunburn In Your Elderly Relative

If you’re caring for an elderly relative, here are a few of the best ways you can prevent sunburn:


  • Make sure your loved one wears a lightweight long-sleeve shirt and pants while in the sun. White is the preferred color, as white fabrics don’t absorb as much heat as dark fabrics
  • Seek shade whenever possible.
  • Have your loved one wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect their head and face from the sun’s rays.
  • Always use sunscreen and re-apply every two hours that your loved one is out in the sun.
  • Check your loved one’s skin frequently. If their skin is getting pink or they are too warm, head back inside. Try not to spend extended periods of time outside in the sun if possible.
  • Stay hydrated. Have your senior loved one take a sip of water every 10 to 15 minutes. Hydration helps your skin, and it also helps keep your elderly relative from getting a heat-related illness when wearing long sleeves and pants.
  • It only takes between 10 and 30 minutes for your body to absorb enough sunlight to get a daily dose of vitamin D. If possible, don’t spend more than 30 minutes outside exposed to the sun per day if you don’t take the above-mentioned precautions.


Related Post: Walkin’ On Sunshine and Vitamin D – Why a Little of Both is Best for Seniors During Colder Months

Searching For Compassionate At-Home Care For An Alderly Relative?

Contact Integrity Home Care + Hospice for more details about our services. We are passionate about providing health services that allow seniors to stay right where they are, in the comfort of their own homes. Call (855) 442-4968 or contact us online for more information.