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The holidays are a time for gathering with friends and family while enjoying the season. But this time of year can also be a dangerous time for seniors with icy, cold conditions and increased isolation. Something as harmless as holiday decorations may also pose a hazard. Senior health can also be strained by seasonal bugs or falls on slippery ice. There are several ways that caregivers can help seniors avoid injury and illness during the holiday season.

Staying Safe

During the holidays, some seniors may try to push themselves harder. Whether it’s shoveling snow or putting up those holiday lights and decorations, not being careful can lead to accidents - especially falls. If a senior has had a knee or hip replacement recently, it is even more important to be mindful when doing holiday activities to avoid re-injuring the joint. Bad weather can also pose health risks.

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Here are some easy ways to ensure that seniors stay safe:

  • Hire someone to shovel snow from walkways and driveways. If they plan to do it themselves, they should tackle the cleanup in small chunks rather than all at once. They need to take plenty of breaks and stay hydrated by drinking water. If possible, they should enlist the help of friends, family or caregivers.
  • Make sure all outdoor walk ways around the home are free of ice by using plenty of sand or salt to prevent falls.
  • Seniors who live alone can benefit from having a live-in caregiver. This is especially important for seniors with mental impairment.
  • Keep a good supply of candles, dry matches, food, extra blankets and medications. During power outages, caregivers and family members should check on seniors to make sure they have everything they need.
  • During bad weather, caregivers should arrange for transportation for groceries or trips to the doctor.
  • Use flame-resistant decorations and keep power cords away from heavily travelled areas. Try not to leave lights on unattended.
  • Get help putting up holiday decorations.
  • Check on seniors regularly or hire a caregiving service to look in on them.

Staying Healthy

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. The tendency to overeat and move less during the holidays can also compromise heart health, as well as increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Here are some tips to keep seniors healthy:

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  • The holidays can be busy times. Seniors need to make sure they take the time to rest and make sure they get enough sleep.
  • Getting a flu shot is advised, but make sure to check with your doctor first. Since older adults are more susceptible to the flu virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that seniors get a flu shot.
  • Keep plenty of fruits and vegetables on hand to keep the immune system strong.
  • Seniors and caregivers should wash their hands frequently. Proper hand-washing involves scrubbing hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • Help them stay active. Because it can be cold outside, try taking a walk in a mall or joining a health club. Seniors can also do exercises at home, but talk to a doctor first.
  • Make sure they stay hydrated with plenty of juice, milk or water.

By following a few simple guidelines, seniors and their caregivers can make the most of the holidays while remaining safe and healthy.

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