As I get older, I find that I start to do things differently or start to worry about things that never even entered into my thoughts. That’s just part of getting old. My newest senior citizen concern? The damage done by the sun. When I was younger, I never worried about the sun. I never wore sunglasses and I never put on sunscreen. Combined with the relatively weak sun in Vancouver and my skin’s ability to resist sun burns, it just wasn’t something I had to deal with. As a teenager, I’d spent up to five hours a day in the sun playing tennis during the summer. Not once did I slap on any Coppertone.

My thinking changed about a year and a half ago when I was down in San Diego. I saw a lot of people who’d spent decades in the glorious sunny weather of southern California. There were these older men and women who were long time residents of the city. Their skin looked like bronzed, tough, wrinkly pieces of leather. It made them look older and beat up. Along with the cosmetic side of this, I began to think about their skin cancer chances. It was then I decided to take sun exposure seriously. Previous to that, I’d only decided to apply sun screen when I was playing tennis starting in 2010. Strangely, even then, I only sprayed on the sun screen on my arms and legs, not on my face.

I don’t want to look like a lizard when I get super old. Now I liberally apply sun screen to all exposed parts of my body when I’m out on a walk. I’ve been outside more this summer than any other in recent memory. While it’s great I’m getting active outside, it has led to more sun exposure. I encourage everyone to think about keeping yourself safe when you’re out in sun for prolonged periods of time. Please don’t let yourself become like this woman.

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