Seniors are particularly at risk for melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer. Most cases of melanoma are diagnosed in seniors between the ages of 65 and 74. Fortunately, skin cancer is highly treatable if it’s diagnosed early. Seniors should make taking care of their skin and getting regular cancer screenings a priority so that if they do develop skin cancer it can be caught and treated early.
Skin care can be difficult for seniors as they get older. Balance problems, poor grip strength, and other mobility challenges can make it hard for seniors to bathe often, apply sunscreen, and do other things that can help protect their skin. Personal care at home can help. Personal care at home provides compassionate help with activities of daily living for seniors. Some things that seniors can do to help prevent skin cancer are:
Make Sunscreen Your Best Friend
Regularly apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to all exposed skin, even on cloudy days. Reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating. Don’t forget commonly overlooked areas like the ears, lips, and the back of the neck.
Keep Things Shady
The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If possible, limit outdoor activities during these hours. Seek shade under trees, umbrellas, or wear a wide-brimmed hat to shield your face and neck.
Wear the Right Clothing
When spending time outdoors, wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and sunglasses with UV protection. Clothing with a high ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) can provide an extra layer of defense.
Always Protect Your Eyes
Seniors should also protect their eyes from harmful UV rays. Wear sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays to prevent eye damage and reduce the risk of cataracts and other eye conditions.
Check the UV Index
Be mindful of the UV Index, which measures the intensity of UV radiation. On days when the UV Index is high, take extra precautions to limit sun exposure and protect your skin.
Perform Regular Skin Checks
Conduct monthly self-examinations of your skin to detect any new or changing moles, freckles, or growths. If you notice anything unusual, consult a dermatologist promptly. Early detection is crucial in treating skin cancer successfully.
Get Yearly Skin Checkups
Seniors should have a professional skin examination by a dermatologist at least once a year. A dermatologist can identify any suspicious skin changes and recommend appropriate treatment or further testing.
Well-hydrated skin is more resilient to sun damage. Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated from the inside out.
Smoking can damage your skin and increase the risk of skin cancer. Quitting smoking can improve overall skin health and reduce cancer risk.
Limit Alcohol Consumption
Excessive alcohol consumption can weaken your skin’s defenses against UV radiation. Seniors should consume alcohol in moderation to protect their skin.
Know Your Medications
Some medications can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun. Be aware of any photosensitizing medications you are taking and take extra precautions when exposed to sunlight.
Keep up to date with information about skin cancer prevention, risk factors, and treatment options. Knowledge is a powerful tool in safeguarding your health.