Holiday Safety Tips for Seniors

HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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get a flu shot. Seniors tend to overeat and move less during the holidays, which can compromise heart health and increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, so help them modify their diet and eat meaningfully. The holidays can be busy times as well. Seniors need to make sure they take the time to rest and get enough sleep.


And there’s another danger you won’t find hanging on the tree or in the lights adorning the house. According to the CDC, 15 of every 100 adults over the age of 65 years are affected by depression.


“Although the holiday season is typically a time of celebration and joy, this time of year can create a sense of nostalgia that may produce melancholy amongst the senior population,” said Sharon Roth Maguire, chief clinical officer for BrightStar Care. Watch for signs of depression in your loved ones and be ready to give them a helping hand to get through the holidays.


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The holiday season is a time for celebration, fun and joy. However, if you have seniors in your family, you need to be more careful of the many dangers that can crop up during the family get together. Here are some tips you can use to ensure the health and safety of seniors in your family:


Fire Hazards. Some holiday decorations are made of very combustible materials such as flammable cotton and tissue paper. Keep these materials away from fireplaces, candles and wires so they don’t ignite. Choose artificial trees that are labeled “fire resistant.” If you do choose to set up a real tree, pick one that has green needles that don’t break easily and water it frequently. Additionally, use only indoor lights on it. LEDs burn cooler than conventional lights, reducing the risk of fire. Do not use lights with frayed or damaged cords. The National Safety Council advises using only lights that have been tested by Underwriters Laboratories (they should have a UL label). In case of fire, have an emergency plan of action. Having a smoke detector in each room in your house is the best option for preventing a fire. Also, have at least one fire extinguisher in your home. According to the National Fire Protection Association, unattended cooking is one of the leading sources of home fires that occur around the holidays. Always keep an eye on food you’re cooking.

HOLIDAY SAFETY TIPS FOR SENIORS

Floor Hazards. Some people set up elaborate arrangements in their homes for the holiday season. However, you need to be sure they are kept out of the way. Decorations such as these may impede your elderly loved ones’ walkers or canes and their ability to walk, increasing their chances of falling. Floor rugs can conceal electrical cords and cause your loved ones to trip and fall.


Snow Hazards. Hire someone to shovel snow from your driveways and walkways. If you plan to do it yourself, work in small increments of time and snow, rather than trying to remove it all at once. Bundle up your entire body and face, leaving no exposed skin, in order to prevent frostbite.


Power Outages. Keep a good supply of candles, dry matches, food, extra blankets and medications on hand. During power outages, caregivers and family members should check on seniors to make sure they have everything they need.


In addition to accidents, seniors also need to be more mindful of their health during the holidays. Older adults are more prone to seasonal influenza and colds, so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends seniors

HARLEENA SINGH

Harleena Singh is a professional freelance writer and blogger who has a keen interest in health and wellness. She can be approached through her blog (www.aha-now.com) and Web site, www.harleenasingh.com. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

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