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Should Seniors Spend Time in the Sun?

The sun is notorious for damaging the skin when it’s exposed for too long and precautions aren’t taken, but the ultraviolet rays of the sun can also heal the body and mind. Seniors have much to gain from moderate time spent in the sun, but they are also more susceptible to the potential dangers. Westfield at-home care professionals discuss some of the risks and benefits of sunlight for your elderly loved one.

Increases the Risk of Skin Cancer

The aging process causes skin to lose its elasticity, making it more vulnerable and delicate. Instead of sunbathing, your loved one should be cautious of overexposure, especially if his or her skin has been damaged in the past. The diminished ability of aging skin to protect itself means getting a sunburn or even tanning can greatly increase the risk of developing skin cancer.

Causes Vision Damage

The sun’s rays can also damage a senior’s vision. Your loved one should wear sunglasses when outside because sun exposure can cause macular degeneration and cataracts. Sunglass lenses should be large enough to cover all around the eyes to ensure most of the UV rays are blocked out.

Treats Disorders with UV Rays

Certain disorders can be treated with light therapy. This is done using controlled UV rays in the form of natural sunlight, tanning beds, or sun lamps. Light therapy can help treat seasonal affective disorder, a form of depression tied to seasonal changes, and it has also been used to relieve pain caused by fibromyalgia. According to an article on Pain.com, this type of therapy has also been useful in treating some instances of neuropathic pain.

Enhances Mood

Exposure to natural sunlight without overdoing it has a few potential benefits for your loved one’s emotional wellbeing. The sun enhances energy and mood by releasing endorphins, the feel-good hormones secreted in the brain. Sunlight also activates melatonin, which is secreted by the pineal gland and balances circadian rhythms.

Though it’s unhealthy to have too much sun, the same can be said for being deprived of sunlight. Finding the right balance between the two may be just what your loved one needs. If you want to ensure your loved one receives enough sunlight without doing so unsafely, reach out to Home Care Assistance. We are a leading provider of stroke, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s care in Westfield, and our caregivers can provide transportation for your loved one, assist him or her with mobility, and help with many other important tasks. To learn more, call one of our experienced Care Managers at 908.450.9400 today.