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Sunbathing for Residents in Assisted Living Communities

Sunbathing has gotten a bad reputation over the last few years due to an increase in skin cancer cases. However, sunbathing safely provides many benefits to people of all ages, and quite a few benefits to note for Alzheimer’s patients. Residents in assisted living communities can take advantage of the sun’s rays while walking with their caretaker or in small groups, or you can sunbathe in the park or pool area.

Benefits of Sunbathing

  • The sun lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Sunbathing reduces stress and anxiety.
  • Sunlight enhances the body’s capacity to deliver oxygen to the tissues.
  • Exposure to the sun is the best way to attain Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps the body increase calcium absorption, which leads to strong bones.
  • Vitamin D3 is also thought to improve cognitive functions and decrease the chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Sufficient vitamin D also helps your immune system to combat inflammation. Depressed people and those with Alzheimer’s disease tend to have higher levels of inflammation in the brain. Enough sunlight exposure to have healthy vitamin D levels is a crucial factor in treating depression or keeping it at bay.

How to sunbathe

  • The sun is most potent at mid-day, so avoid being outdoors in the full sun between 11 am and 2 pm. The best time of the day to sunbathe is early in the morning, or late afternoon.
  • Apply sunscreen if you will be outside for more than 20 minutes. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen on all exposed skin, including your hands and feet, bald spots, the neck and behind your ears. For additional protection wear a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Stay hydrated. Carry a bottle of cold water with you when you are outdoors. Adding lemon slices or fresh mint leaves will make the water tastier and more refreshing. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink your water – you may already be dehydrated by then!
  • How much time you should spend in the sun depends on your complexion (those with very light skin tone have little melanin and need to limit their exposure to the sun).  Additionally, if you have not spent much time in the sun yet this summer, you need to gradually build up your sun exposure. Try for 30 minutes at a time a few times a week, and add 5-10 minutes per day, as long as you are comfortable with the heat.

Always remember to exercise caution while enjoying the sun in your assisted living community. An umbrella, hat and sunscreen will go a long way to protect you from overexposure.

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