Chicago’s North Side lakefront communities provide senior-friendly activities for people to enjoy. Taking trips to the beach, a nearby pool, walks through a park or soaking up some sun in the backyard can be great ways for seniors to enjoy the summer weather. Although spending time outdoors is fun, it is important to understand the effects the sun has on a person’s skin. The more time spent outside increases the risk of melanoma, but that does not mean seniors cannot spend time enjoying the outdoors. Taking the correct measures to prevent melanoma is necessary to have a fun and worry-free summer.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), melanoma accounts for more than 75% of skin cancer deaths and is one of the most serious forms of skin cancer. It is estimated that one person dies almost every hour from melanoma in America.
People develop skin growths or spots on their bodies over time, and in most cases these marks are normal. Abnormal spots and growths are usually very easy to spot and can be very dangerous. Seniors should get routine skin and mole checks by their doctors, but caregivers should also be on the lookout for any signs of melanoma. These growths are easily identifiable, as most of them have specific characteristics. When checking for melanoma, look out for the ABCDs:
Asymmetry: Try drawing a line through the middle of the growth or spot. The line will not yield two equal halves if the spot or growth is melanoma.
Border irregularity: The edges of the growth or spot are typically uneven or rough.
Color variation: Dangerous skin spots can become dark brown or black in color and may even turn red, white or blue.
Diameter or size: Any skin spot or growth that becomes larger than the size of a pencil eraser is considered dangerous.
Healthy Eating and Melanoma Prevention
Foods rich in antioxidants can help prevent cancer, according to WebMD. Examples of such food include artichokes, blackberries, blueberries, cranberries and potatoes. It has also been proven that tomatoes, which contain Lycopene, can decrease the risk of developing certain types of cancer. Vitamin C is also an important nutrient to incorporate in a senior’s diet, because it has anti-cancer properties and helps strengthen immune systems. Foods containing higher doses of vitamin C are broccoli, citrus fruits and peppers.
Sun Safety and Melanoma Prevention
Melanoma is considered one of the deadliest types of skin cancers. Understanding what melanoma is and how to prevent skin damage caused by harmful UV rays will help keep all seniors safe this summer. Four key points to remember for a fun, safe and enjoyable summer:
- Stay out of the sun to avoid too much UV ray exposure.
- Cover up! Wear long-sleeved shirts, hats and sunglasses with UV protection if daily plans require spending excessive amounts of time in the sun.
- Always wear sunscreen and apply it frequently. Use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater to ensure the best skin protection possible.
- Perform a monthly self-exam or have a caregiver perform one if a self-exam cannot be done. Elderly people should also schedule a yearly skin exam with a medical professional in case skin spots or growths need to be tested.