At Autumn View Gardens in Creve Coeur, we want to help prepare our residents for the longer days and warmer weather. For older adults, sun exposure can be a bit of a juxtaposition; while soaking up those beams comes with a myriad of health benefits, there are still a few concerns associated with getting too much sun. Read on to learn more about how you can benefit from spending time in the sun this summer and get some precautionary safety tips to help mitigate any downsides.
You can't begin a list called "the pros of sunlight" with anything other than vitamin D. It's the most obvious benefit for a good reason. Getting a proper amount of vitamins D-1, 2 and 3 is absolutely essential for older adults for many reasons, including:
A study by the National Library of Medicine showed vitamin D deficiencies to be correlated to cognitive degenerative disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer's. A group of 80 individuals — 40 with Alzheimer's and 40 without — had their cognitive functions tested and graded according to four different standards of measurement. Two of the four standards showed a direct link between vitamin D deficiency and poor cognitive performance.
Science has proven again and again that increased exposure to sunlight and increased production of serotonin go hand-in-hand. In a way, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is proof of this in and of itself; this seasonal form of depression is most gripping during the winter months of shorter days and more hours spent indoors. But spring lingers just around the corner, and before you know it, summer is in full bloom, and with it comes a new wave of singing birds, blossoming trees and serotonin that can do a lot for a glum mood.
As an older adult, your skin can be more susceptible to sunburn and skin cancer, even when it isn't hot outside. With this in mind, it's important to take a few simple precautions before going for your morning walk or enjoying an afternoon picnic:
Sunlight can be highly refractive. If you've ever been to a bright, sandy beach on a hot day in July or August with clear skies, you already know this from experience; you've experienced the power and intensity of beams of light reflecting off the white sand straight into your eyes. Because older adults' eyes can be naturally more fragile, it's important to be extra cautious. The best way to do this is with a pair of quality polarized sunglasses.
This may seem obvious, but it's important nonetheless. Older adults can grow dehydrated quicker as they age. Daily medications can play a role in this. Even if you aren't feeling particularly parched or overheated, you should try to drink water as routinely as possible, especially when taking a stroll on a sunny day.
As you soak up some serotonin and vitamin D this summer, be sure to take basic precautionary measures for your health.
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