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Don’t Be SAD This Winter

kermit frog winterAs winter approaches the Berks County area, the daylight hours dwindle and the nights get longer. This can trigger a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a form of depression. Although researchers don’t know exactly what causes it, symptoms can happen any time of year, but always occur at the same time each year for each affected individual.

This disorder, known as SAD, can occur in summer (known as “summer depression”) but is more common around winter, starting in fall or winter and lasting until spring or early summer. If a person generally feels “down” during a season of the year, he or she may have SAD. It can be a vague, mild feeling of being out of sorts, or it can lead to depression, weight gain, and fatigue. The symptoms can interfere with relationships and work or school. It is more common in areas like Pennsylvania that have fewer daylight hours in winter than other locations that have plenty of sunshine year-round.


There’s Still Time To Get Outside!

636220582937954843-Elderly-couple-joggingBerks County is famous for its fall foliage and beautiful scenery, not to mention the many activities available to residents of Reading and beyond. True, the days are getting shorter, the sun is on a tilt, and the weather requires unleashing those friendly old sweaters from storage. Despite these indicators of harsh weather to come, there is still time to get outside and enjoy what’s around you.

Besides the aesthetic pleasure of observing colorful leaves, honking geese, busy squirrels, and people in their fall finery, there are health benefits to walking about and breathing fresh air. This all counts as exercise, and exercise is good for you, as you know! Even if you can’t work out at a gym or fit an expensive, expansive exercise machine in your apartment, you can still enjoy benefits from getting outside or even walking around your building. For people with back, knee, or ankle problems, walking is the recommended exercise. Let’s peek inside your body to see what happens when you are active!


COVID-19 Restrictions Breed Loneliness

Women playing checkers outsidePeople in the Greater Reading Area, as well as much of the rest of the country, are developing what might be called “COVID Fatigue.” We are getting tired of the worries and restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the current spike in COVID cases, fears and fatigue are increasing. One of the biggest concerns is social distancing, which keeps us inside and away from our families and friends. This isolation is of special concern to older adults. According to a recent poll, 56% of people over age 50 said they felt socially isolated, compared with 27% in a poll taken before the pandemic. Seniors feel more isolated and have less interaction with friends, neighbors, and family — people outside their usual “bubble” — than before the virus. This sense of — and actual — isolation are especially prominent in the lives of people who live in healthcare and retirement communities.


“We Gather Together” — Or Can We for the Holidays?

The current COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every part of our lives. There is physical suffering, emotional suffering, and spiritual suffering. Social distancing is causing havoc with shopping, entertainment, healthcare, education, the economy, and family time. Several religious and cultural holidays have come and gone in 2020, and more are approaching, seemingly more rapidly than a vaccine. Older folks are being hardest hit with infections and isolation. Not only are we starving for holiday food — We are hungering for personal contact and celebration. What will the holidays bring?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as other organizations, have recommendations for gathering together on holidays. Along with the usual guidelines concerning social distancing and mask-wearing, there are other recommended precautions, as well as suggested activities, that can make your gatherings as safe as possible.


The Immune System: Your Hidden Warriors Against Disease

Soldiers attacking cellsYou probably hear it every day: “Join us in the fight against cancer!” “Join us in the fight against heart disease!” And, of course, “Join us in the fight against COVID!” There are battles going on both inside and outside of us. As we age, our concerns turn more inward toward our health issues. We have an advanced, dedicated, health care system, but there is something going on inside of us to keep us healthy — something that has been going on since man was created, and that costs us nothing. The faithful warriors of our immune system stand ever ready to prevent or limit infection and battle nasty bacteria and viruses that try to bring us down. We will have a roll call of the natural defenders.


Fresh Flowers Brighten Your Room and Your Day

"In joy and in sadness, flowers are our constant friends." — Unknown

Flowers grow wherever and whenever they are given the opportunity. They teach us, as the saying goes, to "bloom where you are planted." Flowers sit in the dirt, in silent beauty that shouts to our eyes and hearts. Simple blooms can charm your eyes and nose, and bring health benefits as well.

Fresh bouquets delivered regularly to your (or a loved one's) door carry fresh scents, colors, and love into your room. Potted plants, as well as freshly-delivered flowers, have many benefits for physical and emotional health. Think about it — plants don't need masks, and you can touch them all you want (even cacti)!


Is it Time for a New Clock? — Options for Dementia Patients


Often after a medical emergency, someone will ask the patient what day or date it is, to test their mental orientation. They might ask who the president is or something similar in order to see if they are living in the moment. It is common for a dementia patient to repeatedly ask, “What time is it?” or “What day is it?” This can be frustrating for the caretaker or visitor. There are special clocks that can keep a person with dementia oriented and in the present moment. Here are some general introductions to the types of clocks available. An online search or consultation with an expert can produce some specific recommendations.