5 Ways to Prevent Skin Cancer in Elderly People

By Patricia Schumacher, 9:00 am on

Every year, millions of people are treated for skin cancer, which is why it’s important for seniors to take precautionary measures against sun damage. Here are five ways to prevent skin cancer in seniors. 

1. Understand UV Damage

To prevent skin cancer, it’s important to understand why it occurs in the first place. The skin cell damage that leads to cancer is usually caused by excessive exposure to UV rays. There are two types of UV rays: UVA and UVB. UVA rays are more prevalent than UVB rays, and they penetrate deeper into the skin. These rays can cause damage to keratinocytes, a type of skin cell found in the skin layer most prone to cancer. UVB rays cause damage to the outermost layers of skin that leads to sunburns. Like UVA rays, UVB rays cause epidermal damage that can eventually lead to skin cancer. 

Caring for a senior loved one with skin-related health issues can be a difficult task. If you are the primary family caregiver for an elderly loved one and need additional assistance providing high-quality elder care, Rhode Island Home Care Assistance can help. We are a leading home care agency committed to changing the way seniors age.

2. Wear Sunscreen

Sunscreen is an essential defense against sun damage. Your aging loved one should apply sunscreen to the face every morning and to any exposed skin if he or she is spending time outdoors. Even on overcast days, harmful UV rays can damage the skin. When selecting a sunscreen, your loved one should opt for one with an SPF of at least 15. If your loved one has a pale complexion, sensitive skin, or a family history of skin cancer, he or she should use a sunscreen with SPF 30 or more. 

3. Wear Protective Clothing

Sunscreen shields skin from UV damage, and seniors can achieve further protection by wearing protective clothing. When outdoors, your loved one should wear loose, light-colored clothing that covers the majority of the skin. Apparel made from natural fibers like cotton offers adequate protection and breathability for warm, sunny days. Your loved one should also wear a wide brimmed hat, which keeps the sun away from the face, and UV-resistant sunglasses, which protect the eyes. 

4. Know When to Avoid the Sun

UV rays are most potent during the afternoon. If your loved one wants to spend time outdoors, he or she should avoid prolonged sun exposure between the hours of 10am and 4pm. This is when UVB rays, which bear the most responsibility for skin cancer, are at their strongest. If your loved one does go outside during these hours, he or she should try to stay in the shade and regularly reapply sunscreen. 

Seniors living with serious health conditions often need extensive assistance in and outside the home. Home Care Assistance is a trusted provider of 24-hour care. Rhode Island Home Care Assistance provides caregivers who are expertly trained to assist seniors with bathing, grooming, light housekeeping, and various other daily tasks, and we also offer specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.

5. Examine the Skin

Seniors who are at risk for skin cancer should give themselves regular full-body checkups. If they notice any unusual spots or moles on their skin, they should immediately get it looked at by a medical professional. To stave off skin cancer, it’s essential to spot skin abnormalities before they develop into cancer. When moles and other growths are caught in the early stages, dermatologists can prescribe treatments that prevent the damage from getting worse.

Seniors can reduce their risk of skin cancer by making healthy lifestyle choices. If your elderly loved one needs help maintaining healthy habits, consider hiring a professional caregiver. Families can rely on Home Care Assistance Rhode Island to provide dedicated and compassionate in-home caregivers who are trained in our holistic Balanced Care Method, which was designed to encourage seniors to exercise often, eat nutritious foods, maintain strong social ties, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity. To schedule a free in-home consultation, give us a call at (401) 284-0979 today.