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  • Karen McPhail, RN, MSN

Simple Steps for a Healthy and Safe Holiday Season!

No matter how you celebrate, the holidays are a festive time filled with fun, family gatherings, parties, decorations to put in place, cookies to bake, presents to wrap, and traditions to maintain. However for older adults and those chronically ill, the holidays can be stressful and pose some serious safety concerns. Take note of a few simple suggestions that can help one to ensure a safe and happy holiday season!

Set a reasonable pace! Often times we push ourselves too hard over the holidays and end up ill or injured! Set a schedule that is realistic, plan ahead to avoid last minute rushing, use additional resources for gift purchases such as the internet and catalogs, and ask for help when needed. You set the pace!!!!

Plan for poor weather and emergencies. Ensure that you arrange for snow and ice removal for over the winter months. Do not risk injury by doing this work on your own if possible. Have emergency supplies and a plan in place for power outages, etc. A home generator is a worthwhile expense if possible. Arrange for home grocery delivery during busy times of the year and for bad weather. Suppliers such as Giant, Amazon, Whole Foods can be valuable resources for these times! Have family and friends come to you if the weather is a concern over the holidays and during the year.

All the holiday stress can put a strain on the immune system and lead to illness. When on suffers from a chronic condition or as we grow older, we are also more prone to viruses and colds. Stay well by maintaining a healthy balanced diet including fruits and vegetables to boost your immune system. Also remember to get a flu shot, drink adequate fluids, use good and frequent hand washing (wash for at least 30 seconds each time), get adequate rest, and avoid those who appear ill.

The holidays often times mean decorations and holiday clutter. Limit tripping hazards, by ensuring that cords are tucked away (all year long) and that common walkways in the home are free from packages or decorations. Watch out for wrapping paper as it can be a serious tripping hazard!

Holiday decorating can be a fun activity to do with friends and family members! Make it a group event to limit stress, falls, and the potential for injury! A less is more approach can also be best and limit stress during and especially after the holidays. Try to ensure that holiday decor can still allow for routine cleaning and dusting to limit health risks.

When lighting candles ensure open area where burning can be observed to limit fire hazard.

We almost always change our dining habits over the holidays and over indulge a bit. Enjoy the season, but be mindful of dietary restrictions and take time to exercise throughout the season to avoid health issues in the new year. You will thank yourself later! Everything in moderation!

Happy Holidays!

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