Holidays should be a time of togetherness and celebration with family and friends. Unfortunately, all too often the season becomes a time of injury or illness, particularly with seniors. Along with the cold weather come opportunities to catch the flu, fall on the ice, and gain extra weight.
Stay healthy this holiday season by following these tips:
1. Avoid illness.
Fall and winter are the two times of year that you are most likely to get sick. Why? The lack of moisture in the air allows germs to travel much further than they otherwise would. That means that someone who sneezed a few feet away from you in the shopping mall may have just given you a nasty cold. So how do we avoid getting sick and missing out on the festivities? First of all, know places where you are most likely to pick up a germ. Stores, restaurants, and churches are all full of potentially ill people. If you happen to find yourself in one of these locations, wash your hands frequently. Whenever you touch things that others may have touched (menus, countertenors, railings), be sure to wash or sanitize your hands immediately afterwards.
A great way to avoid the flu specifically is to get immunized. The flu shot is available at your doctor’s office and most pharmacies. Talk with your doctor first to see if the flu shot is a good choice for you. And if you do find yourself sick, stay indoors and get plenty of rest. There’s no reason to push yourself. You may just end up getting even sicker.
2. Eat well.
The fall and winter holidays are spectacular for many reasons, but food plays a huge part into how we as Americans celebrate them. From candies and pies to turkey and sweet potatoes, it is hard to say no to the season’s traditional treats.
Because of this, it is no wonder that come January we are looking for ways to slim our waistline once again. Instead of regretting what you have eaten, have some foresight and plan ahead. If you are attending a family holiday dinner that you know will be full of fatty and sweet delicacies eat a healthy snack beforehand. A handful of nuts or some fruit will fill you up enough so that you won’t gorge yourself when your favorite dish passes.
When you are at the party staring buttered mashed potatoes and rich gravy in the face, fill your plate first with vegetables and protein-rich items. Eat some extra pieces of shrimp appetizer or serve yourself a larger salad. You can still eat the potatoes, but try to stick to a smaller portion.
3. Travel safely.
The holidays are often a time for traveling to see family and friends who live far away. And while it is wonderful to catch up with those we love, the actual traveling part can be dangerous if precautions aren’t taken. If driving, be prepared for emergencies with a winter survival kit. This kit should include a flashlight, small shovel, ice scraper, blanket, and flares.
Having these items if you are stuck in the ice and snow could save your life. If traveling by air, be prepared for delays or cancellations due to inclement weather. It can be beneficial to buy a travel insurance policy that will cover the money lost if a flight is cancelled and will provide 24-hour travel emergency services. And because most passengers get stuck when connecting flights are delayed or cancelled, try to get a non-stop flight if at all possible.
4. Prepare your home.
As we enter into the time of year when snow and ice are common, our homes can become more dangerous than usual. Try to clear the snow on steps and sidewalks as soon as possible. To keep ice from forming, sprinkle rock salt onto those areas, putting extra on steps. If this is too big of a task, find a friend or hire someone to keep the area around your house snow-free and safe.
Even if it looks like the steps and sidewalk are safe, be cautious. Ice can be nearly invisible. Have a sturdy hold onto railings when walking downstairs. Take small, slow steps. And be sure that you are wearing proper shoes. If your shoes are at all slippery, wear boots and carry your shoes to be put on later.
With the cold also comes the joy of lighting a fire in your fireplace to keep warm. Before lighting that first fire, maintenance should be done on the chimney. Check to make sure that birds haven’t decided to nest in your chimney, blocking the path for the smoke. And always have a working carbon monoxide detector close by.
5. Decorate with caution.
If you are decorating your home for the holidays, have fun but be safe. Check any holiday lights for wires that look damaged or the lights don’t stay on. Opt to replace anything not working properly with new lights. And when you are hanging them, work with a friend. Not only will it be a fun day of holiday cheer, but you will have help with any lifting, reaching, and carrying that may need to be done.
Although safety may not be the first thing that you think of when the holiday season begins, taking a few precautions can make this winter one of joyfulness. So, be aware in your home, when traveling, and while enjoying holiday meals, and you will have a very happy holiday indeed.
Freedom Home Care offers expert caregivers who provide in-home care to seniors who wish to remain comfortably in their homes. We offer Alzheimer’s Care, Arthritis Care, and more. Give us a call today and learn how we can help you and your family.