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Have you noticed that the period shortly before, during and after Christmas / New Year seems to bring with it an increase in the mortality rate? Have you ever wondered why?

Let’s examine what is going on for many and why the risks of helpforseniorsdying at this time of year are greater…and what you may be able to do about it.
The Activity Factor

Firstly, in the Northern hemisphere, the nights are getting longer and there is less sun energy, literally, about. This means that for many seniors they are stuck inside for ever increasing periods of time, even if it may be warm enough to go out the tendency is to not.helpformidlifers

Poorer eyesight with age, perhaps less mobility and if they are still driving, an awareness that they don’t feel safe driving at night really limits them.

Less mobility or movement with ease and no pain are also inhibitors for getting out and about. Often the comfort factor reduces when it is damper and cooler. (Note that sitting still for long periods, whatever the ambient temperature, can have a similar effect too.)


This in turn prevents seniors from going out and seeing more of their friends and being socially active. Less human contact can lead to more depression.

If this is coupled with chronic illness, it is well researched that this can lower life expectancy – the combination of all this lowers your energy further.

Finally, your mental state is a key determinant of your mortality.

Having a goal to aim for – something to look forward to makes an immense difference to your mental and emotional health.

We have all heard of seniors who haven’t died until a few hours or days after a new member of the family arrives – a longed for tinklookingrightcirclelowresgrand or great grandchild.

Christmas and the New year holiday has a similar effect. The desire to be with and see one’s family can be overpowering! But, the downside is that once the celebrations and contact is over, many seniors simply have nothing else to look forward to of any note.

January / February are, after all, the coldest, wettest and most depressing months of them all! At this time of year it seems a really long time before the Spring and new growth, hope and activity.

TIP: ALWAYS have an event to look forward to that is of big enough magnitude and not too far off following a family event to bring mental anticipation into the Seniors life.

The “bug” factor – human physiology

A disadvantage of seeing and being with family, is that; unlike when you live on your own you get used to your own germs; when you visit relatives you come into contact with a whole new range. If your immune system is poor, these new bugs may prove to be unbeatable. The ‘flu’ is a typical example but bronchitis which can turn into pneumonia quite quickly and can be a killer. If the senior is home on their own again, they may not feel well enough to go to their Doctors, or just think that the cough is lasting rather a long time. By the time help is sought it may be too late.

Lastly, Christmas is a time of over abundance and over indulgence. It is a feast after all. We get larger meals and richer meals than we are used to. There is a different routine if you are with family. Less time to rest, for peace and quiet etc. This can be very unsettling for a solitary older person to deal with.

The change of diet can bring on altered body physiology (how the chemicals all work and interact together) and sometimes medications can get forgotten or are put out of sync. This can lead to heart attacks, strokes or even diabetic crises. Occasionally the senior is unable to recover.


Top suggestions for surviving the holiday season.

  1. Don’t over do the rich food or alter your diet too radically or for too long
  2. Take a nap if you need to, or go to a quieter room to allow your ears to relax, away from excited children and adults!
  3. STAY AWAY from visiting relatives if they are or have recently been ill.
  4. Remember to take all medication at the appointed time.
  5. Stick to your routine when you can.
  6. Have something to look forward to that is not months away in time. e.g a holiday or short break; another time to see the family.
  7. Get outside into the fresh air as often as you can.
  8. Maintain your social interactions even if this means getting a taxi to take you somewhere. It might just save your life!
  9. Make use of the phone or your computer to stay in contact with people regularly.
  10. Be grateful for all that you have and do, even if it may not seem much. Gratitude enhances your immune system!

© Great Guidelines for Later Life. Gayle Palmer 2016

If you found this useful let me know in the comments below.

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WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE, BLOG OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it:

Gayle Palmer, the creator of Great Guidelines for Later Life - The world’s most thorough, comprehensive and supportive, one-stop resource for all seniors and their families who are ready to get their lives in order before they die AND help them to live out their days having a life they love, clear in the knowledge that they have done everything they need to. She has developed various courses, programmes and workshops for seniors and their families to work through, leaving no stone un-turned.

Gayle’s experience of over 25 years as an Osteopath, treating thousands of people and helping them through similar worries and concerns only strengthens her knowledge and commitment to you too. Her expertise is not only in the physical realm but emotional, mental and spiritual too. All Rights are Reserved.  

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