July is UV Safety Awareness Month: Protecting Yourself from the Sun’s Harmful Rays

July is a month full of sunshine and outdoor activities. It’s also UV Safety Awareness Month, a crucial time to highlight the importance of protecting ourselves from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. While everyone needs to be cautious about sun exposure, older adults face unique challenges and risks that make UV safety particularly important for them.

Couple on a beach

Understanding UV Radiation and Its Risks

UV radiation is a type of energy produced by the sun. While it is essential to produce vitamin D, excessive exposure can lead to severe health issues, including:

Skin Cancer: Prolonged exposure to UV rays can lead to various types of skin cancer, including melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.

Eye Damage: UV exposure can cause cataracts, macular degeneration, and photokeratitis (sunburn of the eye).

Premature Aging: UV rays accelerate the aging of the skin, causing wrinkles, leathery skin, and age spots.

Why UV Safety is Crucial for Older Adults

As we age, our skin becomes thinner and more sensitive, making it more susceptible to damage from UV radiation. Additionally, our immune systems weaken over time, reducing the body’s ability to repair sun-damaged skin. Here are some specific reasons why older adults need to be extra cautious:

Increased Susceptibility to Skin Cancer: Older adults are more likely to develop skin cancer due to cumulative sun exposure over their lifetime. Regular screenings and vigilant protection are essential.

Medication Sensitivity: Many older adults take medications that can increase sensitivity to the sun, including antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and certain heart medications. This can lead to a higher risk of sunburns and other sun-related damage.

Eye Health: Protecting the eyes from UV rays is vital to prevent conditions like cataracts and macular degeneration, which are more common in older adults.

Tips to Stay Safe in the Sun

Wear Sunscreen: Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Apply it generously and reapply every two hours, or more frequently if swimming or sweating.

Seek Shade: Avoid direct sun exposure during peak hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). When outdoors, stay under umbrellas, trees, or other shelters.

Wear Protective Clothing: Long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and wide-brimmed hats provide excellent protection. Consider clothing with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) labels for additional safety.

Protect Your Eyes: Wear sunglasses that block 100% of UV rays. Look for wrap-around styles to protect the eyes from all angles.

Stay Hydrated: Dehydration can exacerbate the effects of sun exposure. Drink plenty of water, especially when spending extended periods outside.

Be Sun Smart Year-Round: UV rays can cause damage even on cloudy days and in winter. Make sun protection a daily habit, regardless of the season or weather.

Check Your Skin Regularly

Regular skin checks are crucial for early detection of skin cancer. Examine your skin monthly for any new moles or changes to existing moles and see a dermatologist annually for a professional skin exam.

UV Safety Awareness Month in July is the perfect time to remind us of the importance of sun protection. By taking proactive steps to protect their skin and eyes from UV radiation, you can enjoy the sunshine safely and reduce their risk of serious health issues. At eternalHealth, we support our members in their quest to keep themselves safe during these hot summer months with a robust OTC benefit and a network of doctors and dermatologists to keep their skin happy and healthy. Discover more today by calling 1 (800) 831-9218 or visit us at www.eternalHealth.com

Page Last Updated On: July 2, 2024
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Tom Cunniffe

Tom Cunniffe

Director of Operations 

Tom Cunniffe comes to eternalHealth with over 20 years of healthcare operations’ experience, having held leadership positions in Call Center, Enrollment, Credentialing, UAT and Reimbursement teams. Tom has worked with Medicaid, Commercial and Medicare lines of business and has consistently built teams who are metrics driven with proven successful outcomes. Making sure our business strives for an efficient, best-in-class customer experience is at the center of Tom’s philosophy.

Tom has a bachelor’s degree from Fordham University and a master’s in business administration from University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Tom Lawless

Tom Lawless

Chief Financial Officer

Tom Lawless has spent the past 20+ years building, sustaining, and growing new healthcare-related programs that balance fiscal responsibility & prudence with creativity & innovation, focusing on models of care that are novel, person-centered, and improve the social welfare of those who are served. He is very excited to continue doing so in his role as the Chief Financial Officer of eternalHealth.

Tom comes to eternalHealth from a not-for-profit, member-centric, health insurance cooperative. He helped the company continuously strive toward its dual goals of thriving financially, while keeping members at the very epicenter of its mission and service model. While there, Tom also spearheaded the creation of a brand new private, charitable foundation, which will be meaningfully giving back to those in need in the surrounding communities for years to come. Previously, Tom worked in the finance department of a successful hospice that provided high-quality care to persons experiencing their unique and poignant end-of-life journeys, assuring that the appropriate financing was always available. Tom’s career began as a civil servant in the Wisconsin Medicaid program, where he helped to create a program that expanded the institutional entitlement to care into home and community-based settings. Starting with only a blueprint in hand, the program now serves more than 57,000 frail elders and disabled adults and is considered a national model. Growing into a senior leadership role, Tom was a key architect of an innovative financing model, through which the public and private sectors successfully collaborated to better the lives of persons in great need.

Tom holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago, with additional graduate work in economics completed at the University Wisconsin-Madison.

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