HEALTH April 2016 Senior Wire News Service
A Healthy Age
By Amy Abbott
Whether you will soon celebrate spring break – or whenever you visit – with grandchildren from southern California to the Atlantic, here are some tips to stay healthy.
- Take comfortable shoes. Walking on a rocky beach or hiking in a wooded state park, you’ll need decent shoes with support. No more “grandma” shoes – thankfully, there are multiple colorful and standard options for walking, running, hiking, or any activity you choose. Experts tell us to break in our shoes; going on that three-mile walk with shoes right out of the box isn’t a good idea for foot or shoe.
- Put your feet up when you can. This helps blood circulate. If your feet bother you after a long day of chasing the grands at a theme park, try a nice warm foot bath.
- Wear sunglasses. Especially if you are used to the north’s diffuse winter sun, your eyes are unaccustomed to being closer to the equator. Take sunglasses, particularly if you wear prescription lenses.Prescription sunglasses are worth the extra money, I believe. Sun exposure to your eyes can heighten the risk of certain cancers, reports the Skin Cancer Foundation. Eyelid tumors on the lower lid account for five to 10 percent of all skin cancers.Ten percent of cataract cases come directly from UV exposure. The SCF also highlights macular degeneration: “Macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of vision loss in the U.S. for people over age 60. While further research is required, some studies point to UVA and HEV light as potential causes of macular degeneration.”
- Stay hydrated. Grandpa getting overheated takes the joy out of parasailing. There’s such a simple solution, most of the time. Drink. Thy. Water. Nutritional Review studied the impact of hydration on our bodies. Water is necessary for cellular homeostasis and life. Homeostasis is a ten-dollar word we learned in freshman biology that describes the self-regulating process to keep body systems stable.If you are on the golf course for the first time in three months and it’s a warm 88 degrees in the shade, be careful! Keep water or a sports drink at hand. Overheating can lead to a multitude of health problems. Stay hydrated and in the shade when it is hot. Dress in layers so you can remove pieces of clothing as the weather warms, and of course, stay hydrated with drinks that don’t deplete fluids like alcohol or caffeine drinks.
- Use sunscreen. This is a no-brainer. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a broad-spectrum agent SPF 30 or higher that protects against UVA and UVB rays. Use enough sunscreen to fill a shot glass each time and recoat every two hours. And don’t forget the back of your neck. Just because you can’t reach it, doesn’t mean the sun can’t burn you there. Wear a hat – you’ve earned the right to be goofy in front of your grandchildren. Travel sites sell wonderful, packable hats that offer UV protection.
- Avoid fatigue by planning ahead. You may be more tired than usual after a day kayaking with the grands. Plan your big days with lots of activity in the a.m., and a break for lunch. Return to the activity in late afternoon. As a former Florida resident, I know the best time to hit the theme parks and other attractions is when all the people with day-passes are leaving. You’ll get a great parking spot while waving the tourists good-bye!
- Be mindful of the critters and other wild things. When you are out of your element, be mindful there may be critters out there. Also, be wary of red tide if you’re at a beach. Red tide gets a lot of press from Florida, but it blooms all over the world. Red tide is really algae and can bring harm to some types of fish as well as turn the water a reddish-brown. The Manatee (Florida) County government website notes that people who choose to swim in red tide or breathe in its gasses may experience eye, nose, and throat irritation as well as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Take my advice. Stay in your beach chair and away from the algae blooms.
- Have a first-aid bag. Take a few simple items, including antibiotic cream, band-aids, aspirin (or an acceptable pain reliever), your own meds (in their bottles in case you have to get emergency care), and your physician’s phone number. Having worked in hospitals in Florida, there’s nothing worse than the Snowbird who comes into the emergency room with no contact numbers and no family around.
Whether your vacation with grandkids is a weekend or a week, you want to make precious memories with them, not of emergency room visits.