Seven Senior Health Tips For The Holidays

December 21, 2011
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The following is a guest post from Erin Palmer.

For seniors, the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, cooking, baking and get-togethers can be loads of fun and a nice break from the typical routine. Unfortunately, holiday activities can also cause an increase in stress levels – which can compromise the immune system and leave seniors more susceptible to illness.

If you’re a senior, you know that staying healthy during the holidays will make them much more joyful for you and your loved ones. Being healthy doesn’t have to be hit-or-miss: a little planning can go a long way to prevent the weight gain, colds, flu, and physical exhaustion that often take hold this time of year.
Here are seven tips to help you sail through the holiday season in good health and high spirits.
1.      Organize Your Time
When planning family visits, parties, shopping, baking, decorating, travel and other holiday activities, be sure to organize your time around your needs. Don’t over-schedule yourself. It’s okay to say “no” to invitations that might add too much stress to the day.
If you are not able to tackle the mall for an extended day of shopping, try a few one hour shopping trips. Shopping online is another easy option. Buying gifts a little at a time will help keep you from getting overstressed.
Ask for help from friends and family when you need it. If you typically prepare the entire holiday meal, this year, ask guests to bring a dish. This will make it easier on your schedule. Plus, the less time you spend in the kitchen, the more time that you get with your loved ones.
2.      Set A Holiday Budget
Worrying over finances can lead to a lot of stress. Before you start shopping, set a realistic budget and stick to it. Small, meaningful and handmade gifts are often the most valued. Always ask family members what they’d like, instead of guessing and overspending. Consider giving gift cards; they’re easy to buy and one size fits all.  No matter what, do not let the holidays overwhelm your budget. Focus on the quality time with family instead of just material things.
3.      Avoid Germs
Holiday get-togethers can bring much joy and happiness to life. They can also bring a slew of germs to your home. Kids, in particular, can be little germ factories, so it’s especially important that they – and you – wash hands frequently.
Keep your hands away from your mouth, nose and eyes. If possible, keep children’s hands away from your face. Keep hand sanitizer close by and use it often. Be particularly careful in the kitchen. Make sure to keep counters, utensils and other cooking spaces clean when making holiday meal preparations.  
4.      Eat Healthy Foods
At the holidays, it’s far too easy to overindulge on sweets and rich foods, but you’ll probably pay for it later! Feel your best by choosing healthy foods. Try to stick to your regular diet as much as possible. When you indulge, choose smaller portions to avoid a sugar rush or car overload.
Don’t skip meals before a holiday feast. Proper diet and nutrition can keep your energy level high and help you ward off illness. Before a party, eat a small meal or snack, to help you avoid eating too much of the wrong foods. Eat vegetables and salads first, then enjoy your holiday favorites in moderation.
5.      Stay Hydrated
Eating rich or salty foods or drinking alcohol means your body will need extra fluids to avoid the dangers of dehydration. Try keeping a water bottle close by and sip frequently. Have a glass of water with every meal – not only will it help you stay hydrated, but it can also make you feel more full so you don’t overeat.
6.      Exercise Every Day
Staying active can be the key to avoiding stress this holiday season. Taking a daily walk will quiet your mind and get your blood flowing. A family walk is a nice way to finish the evening after a big meal.
If you have errands nearby, try walking instead of driving when possible. If you’re out after dark, take a flashlight and be extra careful. Dress for the weather and wear proper shoes to prevent falls. If it is too cold to walk outside, head to a mall or other indoor space where you can safely walk around.
7.      Get Proper Rest
For seniors, getting enough rest could be the most important component of a healthy holiday season. When you feel tired, listen to your body and take a nap. Plan to relax after a shopping trip or other hectic activity. . Don’t jump from one activity to another. Allow time to relax in between.
Try not to rush to “get it all done.” Take it easy. You don’t have to meet everyone’s expectations in order to have a lovely holiday. Remind yourself it will be okay if you scale back a bit, and only bake three types of cookies instead of five. Always aim to get a good night’s sleep, especially when you have a busy day ahead.
It is Possible for Seniors to Have a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season
The holiday season is all about seeing family and friends, eating good food and reminiscing about holidays past. Wouldn’t it be a shame to miss any of the fun because of illness? Take care of yourself by following these tips, and this year, you could have your healthiest and happiest holidays yet!
Erin Palmer is a contributor to U.S. News University Directory a leading resource for education information online. The directory includes top colleges and universities offering online nursing degree, business education programs, healthcare degrees and many other accredited continuing education programs.  For more information please visit http://www.usnewsuniversitydirectory.com.

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