As the weather gets cooler and social activities move indoors, Americans need to take steps to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, an expert says. If you're planning indoor gatherings, keep the number of guests as low as possible, leave enough space to maintain 6 feet or more between people, and wear face coverings. "These preventive measures are more important than ever because we know that recent COVID-19 cases are among younger people, who are less likely to have symptoms and might not even know that they are contagious," health experts said in a recent news release. "As families mix -- young with old, healthy with frail -- we will see more vulnerable people becoming infected and dying," experts added. "Protect your grandparents by making sure everyone wears a mask." As for fall traditions such as trick-or-treating on Halloween, visiting pumpkin patches and indoor haunted houses, Lee offered safety guidelines. Avoid crowds, especially indoors; maintain social distancing; wash your hands often, and wear a face covering. Consider replacing indoor activities with outdoor ones. For example, take a walk to look at the autumn colors; go for a hike; have a scavenger hunt, or visit a farm that offers fall hay rides. Plan ahead so you can avoid crowds, keep your distance and wear a mask, health experts said.
Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu shot this season, the American Medical Association reported in a recent news release. With the coronavirus pandemic raging, a flu shot is more important than ever to protect yourself, your loved ones and your community from the flu. Experts have warned that a "twindemic" of flu and COVID-19 could overwhelm the health care system. Just as wearing a mask helps prevent spread of the new coronavirus, getting a flu shot helps prevent people from getting sick and spreading flu to others. Flu shots also shield people who can't get vaccinated, including very young children, cancer patients and those with weakened immune systems. When immunization rates are high, these people are protected because they're less likely to be exposed to the flu. Flu activity increases in October and most often peaks between December and February. But it can last as late as May. Fall is the ideal time to get the flu vaccine, but it's never too late. The COVID-19 pandemic may affect when, where and how flu shots are given, according to the AMA. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an online tool to help patients find nearby places to get vaccinated.
Tripping over a box or slipping on a wet floor could leave you with a broken bone. And a fall could easily send an older person to the hospital, says the National Institute on Aging. If you fall, stay calm and follow the agency's recommendations: Take several deep breaths to try to relax. Remain still on the ground for a few moments. If you are hurt or cannot get up on your own, ask for help or call 911. If you are alone, try to get into a comfortable position and wait for help to arrive.
To Avoid Falls, Check Your Balance Bad balance is a common cause of dangerous falls, especially among older adults. Falls send more than 2 million adults to the emergency room every year and often result in lengthy rehab stays. Preventing falls is a priority for staying healthy and preventing painful broken bones as you age. Easy strength and balance exercises that you can do anytime, anywhere, such as tai chi and yoga, can help you stay steady on your feet. But first it's important to know how good (or lacking) your balance is. Grab a friend or loved one, a sturdy chair and a stopwatch to check your balance with a quick test called the single leg stance. It basically involves standing on one leg, and doctors use it to predict who might be at risk of falling. Stand barefoot in front of the chair but don't touch it. Cross your arms. Lift one leg up off the floor and start the timer. As you feel yourself start to sway, immediately steady yourself with the chair and stop the timer. Here are the average times that indicate good balance when you stand on one leg based on age: Ages 18-39: 43 seconds for men and women Ages 40-49: 40 seconds for men and women Ages 50-59: 36 seconds for women, 38 for men Ages 60-69: 25 seconds for women, 28 for men Ages 70-79: 11 seconds for women, 18 for men Ages 80-99: 7 seconds for women, 5 seconds for men If you become unsteady before your specific time, talk to your doctor. Illness, medication and even footwear can throw you off balance. Together, you and your doctor can find solutions. You can improve your balance by practicing the one-leg stance, but as a training exercise, hold onto a chair and don't let go. Lift one leg for 15 seconds, rest and repeat three times, then switch legs. The stronger your lower body, the steadier you'll be on your feet. For safety reasons, always have someone with you when trying a balance exercise for the first time. Or consider a group balance class. Many community centers offer fun fitness programs to help adults prevent falls.
Watching Your Carbs with Diabetes If you have diabetes, carbohydrates can be the most confusing part of your menu. Carbs raise your blood sugar, but they also provide much-needed energy. Eating too many carbs can make you gain weight, but skimping on them means you miss out on the fiber and nutrients found in many carbohydrate-rich foods. To make things even more complicated, some carbohydrates raise blood sugar faster and higher than others. Fortunately, you don't need a degree in nutrition to manage all this. By keeping a few simple things in mind, you can enjoy the benefits of carbs without losing control of your diabetes. The first thing to know is that you need plenty of carbohydrates every day. So-called "low-carb" diets won't give you the energy and nutrition you need to feel your best. The American Diabetes Association and other groups recommend getting 45 percent to 65 percent of all calories from carbohydrates. If you're counting carb grams, you should shoot for about 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrates at every meal if you're a woman, 60 to 75 if you're a man. Foods that raise blood sugar the most include white bread, white rice, white flour pasta, refined breakfast cereals (such as corn flakes), doughnuts, crackers, and potatoes. In medical speak, these foods are said to have a "high glycemic load. Carbohydrate choices with a low glycemic load -- those that raise blood sugar the least -- include beans, non-starchy vegetables, bran cereal, and most kinds of fruit. Foods with a moderate glycemic load -- those that raise blood sugar a medium amount -- include whole grain breads, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, and fruit juice with no added sugar. Some nutritionists recommend keeping track of the glycemic load for each meal. To make this possible, they have assigned a score called a glycemic index to just about every type of food that contains carbohydrates. In theory, you could use such a score sheet to fine-tune every meal. But such an approach isn't easy, and it isn't foolproof. The glycemic index of a particular food can change depending on how it's served. For example, a baked potato has a lower score than mashed potatoes. A hard peach or plum has a lower score than a ripe, mushy piece of fruit. Surprisingly, some decidedly non-healthy foods -- such as a Snickers bar -- actually have low glycemic scores. Adding healthy carbohydrates to your diet doesn't have to be so complicated. Instead of worrying about glycemic scores, you could simply make a point of eating more whole grain foods, fruits, vegetables, and beans and less white bread, regular pasta, potatoes, and heavily processed foods. Not only will you have an easier time keeping your blood sugar under control, you'll also be benefiting from the extra fiber and nutrients that go along with healthy carbohydrates.
Sipping hot cocoa on the couch during winter may be a peaceful pursuit. But if cabin fever sets in on you or your family, it may make you very restless. Here is a little advice for staying sane inside this winter: Spend time in the kitchen. Cook fun, new meals. Get crafty with an arts-and-crafts project. Bundle up and make snowmen, go sledding or play in the snow. Have board game competitions. Look for volunteer opportunities in your area.