Aging Well – December 16th

Just when you think it’s going to be a mild winter, an early blast of arctic air comes around the corner and we are in a winter wonderland. Snow and cold temperatures once meant sledding, snow ball fights and a chance to miss school. Not anymore. Now it is how can I keep my hands and feet warm and keep the pipes from freezing.

But the cold weather can create significant risks. One risk is hypothermia which occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can be produced. As we age we are more susceptible to cold temperatures for several reasons. We may be: taking medications or have an illness restricting our body’s ability to stay warm, living in an older house with poor heating or just isolated and alone. During frigid temperatures, a simple mistake or small accident can turn tragic.

There are some common sense things you can do to avoid hypothermia while enjoying the winter months. First, keep in touch. When the weather turns bad, you might want to create a call schedule where you call family or friends on a regular basis so they know you are okay. Also, make sure your home heating system is safe and reliable. Have your furnace checked to ensure it is working properly, before the weather gets cold. (Oops, missed that one.)

In case of power outages during the winter, stock up on non-perishable food items (some of the items should not require cooking) and keep a flashlight with fresh batteries, a cell phone (if you have one), and a portable radio. And when you do go outside, be particularly careful. Make sure your car is in good repair and has proper winter tires. This is not the time for your car to break down or skid off the road.

Another winter concern is space heaters. In my old house when it’s cold outside with the east wind blowing, it gets a little drafty (I tell my wife it is just like living in an old Scottish castle and we should feel like royalty). So I hustle down to the basement and bring up the space heaters to help warm up the cold spots in the house. But according to the National Fire Protection Association, space heaters and other supplemental heating equipment are the leading cause of house fires in the winter months. The following reminders might help you from being one of those statistics. Keep anything that burns at least three feet away from the heater; turn the heater off when it is unattended especially when you go to sleep; check your heater for frayed insulation, broken wires or overheating; buy space heaters with automatic shutoff features and heating element guards; and keep the cord for the space heater out of the way where you won’t walk on it or trip over it.

These are just common sense reminders to help you stay warm and safe during these invigorating winter months. (And, now that I think about it, Arizona isn’t such a long drive after all.)

With the winter’s arrival, there will probably be days when the Center and Meals-on-Wheels will be closed. It is always a tough call because we both want to remain open whenever possible but we also know that by being open during icy and snowy conditions we may be encouraging folks to get out when they should be staying home. So to make is simple, we have decided to follow School District 21: when the schools are closed the Center and Meals-on-Wheels will also be closed. When School District 21 is on a two hour delay, the Center’s morning activities will be cancelled, but whether Meals on Wheels will be closed will depend on the weather conditions. Call or listen to the radio to find out whether we will be open.

During the holidays things slow down at the Center. The Center and Meals-on-Wheels will be closed on Christmas Day and New Years Day and the following Fridays (but there will still be Bingo on both Saturdays). Many of the classes will be taking a short hiatus during, so you may want to call the Center to make sure your class is meeting. But there are several fun activities that will be occurring to celebrate the holidays.

There will be a special End of the Year Bingo Night on Saturday December 27th. Saturday Night bingo will celebrate the coming New Year with extra prizes, food and an all round good time, all for a $20 buy-in. Bring your friends and neighbors. Doors open at 4:30 and the Early Birds start at 6:00.

We have a beautiful quilt on display at the Center that in a few days is going to some lucky winner. It could be you but not if you haven’t stopped by the Center and purchased your raffle tickets. You only have a few days left, because the drawing will be held at the Center’s Saturday Breakfast on December 20th. Only two quilts are raffled a year and this one will make a wonderful gift that will be appreciated for many, many years.

Every third Saturday, the Center hosts a breakfast for the whole community with good food at the right price: $5 per person and $4 for Center members. This coming Saturday December 20th will be a special holiday breakfast sponsored by Mill Creek Point Assisted Living. They have scheduled the Sweet Adelines to provide special music and have also invited Santa. The delicious meal includes hot cakes, sausage, scrambled eggs and fruit and the regular beverages. So come by and visit with old friends, meet new ones and enjoy good food and good music. As we always say: Breakfast tastes better when someone else cooks it.”

The snow is falling as well as the temperature which has forced me to start my winter exercise program, shoveling snow. So until we meet again, be safe, stay warm and stay connected.

” Sometimes our fate resembles a fruit tree in winter. Who would think those branches would turn green again and blossom, but we hope it, we know it.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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