Happy Health-idays!​

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For many families, the holidays are of the happiest times of the year, but it can also be one of the most dangerous. First of all, they fall smack dab in the middle of cold and flu season, so we're already at a disadvantage right there. Then, there are all of the extra commitments: the social engagements, the pageants at school and church, the family gatherings. Don't get us wrong, we love every moment of these events, but they do make for a pretty full calendar.

Add to that, the fact that we're probably eating and drinking in a less healthy way than we normally would, not getting enough rest, stressed out about getting it all done, and running around town even more than usual. It's a wonder anyone makes it through unscathed.

As with so many things, the risks are even greater for older adults, who may not be as strong going into the holiday season so their defenses are even lower. Here are some things to keep in mind to help stave off holiday health woes:

  • Thinking on your feet: The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can increase the fall risk for seniors (as you can see from the photo, even Saint Nick has been known to take a tumble). Try to ensure that paths in the home are always clear and that the floor is free from clutter (i.e. gifts to be wrapped, decorations, seasonal mail). Using a cane, a walker -- or even a shopping cart -- for balance can mean the difference between a holiday at home and one spent in the hospital.
  • Food (and drink) for thought: While it's hard to resist some of the rich temptations of the season, our bodies don't come equipped with a seasonal hall pass. Avoid or limit over-indulging as much as possible and try to account for any lapses by being extra cautious at other times. People of any age who are on a restricted diet should always discuss it with their health care provider before straying from the course.
  • Taking (and giving) no for an answer: We all want to enjoy the festivities as much as possible, but sometimes we're just not up for it. And that's okay. By knowing when we need to sit one out, we can help ensure we are ship-shape and rarin' to go next time. By the same token, understanding when a loved one needs to take a break – whether it's just a few minutes in a quiet room, or actually missing an event or two – can help the holidays run more smoothly for everyone.
  • Wash those germs right off of your hands (and everywhere else): All that holiday affection – plus the extra contact you have with money and potentially germy surfaces when you're doing your holiday errands – can wreak havoc on your immune system. Be sure to practice good hand washing habits and try to avoid contact with people who are sick, or touching anything dicey if you don't have to do so.

For more information on the health and well-being of older adults, please contact us!


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