Post Holiday Blues

Well, it’s almost over! Things will start to quieten down pretty soon now. The hustle, bustle and downright excitement of the holiday period will soon be just a memory, and things will get back to normal. Did you notice how busy the stores seemed to be, this year? I don’t know if it’s because people are spending more or because there are just more people around these days, but the parking lots at the local mall were packed most of the time. One tends to gets caught up in the spirit of things, and end up shopping away with the best of ‘em.

I left the Christmas lights on a while longer, just because they brighten up what usually ends up being a bit of a dreary let-down in January. They make you feel a bit warmer, even if you aren’t. It’s also that month where we seem more likely to catch a cold. We get a few warm days, and then we get cold days, and so on. Although the winters are not as cold as they were when I was a young man in Montreal, with its waist-high snow banks along just about every city street, being older still means paying a lot more attention to what we wear when we go out. In fact, it pays to have a warm hat, warm coat, gloves etc with you when you go anywhere, even if you go by car. Cars, like people, break down under stress, and we old-timers can’t afford to be stuck out in the cold without the proper clothing.

And, talking of cars and breakdowns, it is especially important to keep the family car in good shape in the winter months, so don’t put off oil changes and unidentified noises under the hood. You can’t afford to be without wheels. Winter seems to be particularly hard on car batteries, by the way! You also need to make sure you don’t let that gas needle get too low. When it runs out of gas, your car is not much more useful than a lean-to garage. At our age, we are more apt to forget to check and then find ourselves stuck. At times like that you wish you had renewed your CAA membership, and had some means of calling for help. If you travel out of town or off the beaten track, it also pays to have some sort of blanket or warm extra covering on board. Nights can be awfully cold inside a car with no power!

No power in the house is almost as bad! We seniors need to be ready for when the electric power fails, as it does from time to time. So much depends upon it these days: heating of living space, cooling of the refrigerator, keeping frozen foods frozen, radios and television to stay in touch and, of course, lighting. Some sort of auxiliary lighting is essential, but be careful if you rely on candles. I’ve been known to light one and then walk away and forget it. Luckily, the oversight has been spotted in time, but that’s what it was, “Luck”! I guess the main thing is to stay warm and at the same time safe. The last thing we want is to get so cold we are not able to think straight, or fumble around in the darkness trying to find a light. Either situation practically guarantees we’ll do something stupid, or forget something important and get ourselves into trouble.

Don’t lose too much sleep over all that money you spent in December, which you knew even at the time you really couldn’t afford to spend. You’ll probably survive that, but cold and accidents can be less forgiving. We’ll just tighten our belts (in more ways than one) and get through the money problem somehow. But stay in touch with friends and family, even if you have to dodge bill-collectors at the same time. The holidays may be over, but you can’t afford to hibernate completely at your age. Gotta keep the communication lines open! Others may need your help, and you may end up needing theirs.

The present cold snap, with sub-zero temperatures that feel close to minus 30 degrees Celsius, is an additional hazard. And that’s not just for seniors. It’s potentially dangerous for anyone caught out in it without the proper clothing. At times like this I am reminded of Eliza Doolittle, who wouldn’t budge “till Spring came over the windowsill!” Sounds like something to aim for! We may not be able to avoid going out until Spring, but we can try to organize our shopping trips etc, to minimize our exposure.

So, what’s the bottom line to all this? Well, first of all be thankful you’re not a sparrow or a squirrel! Be thankful, too, if you are one of the lucky ones and ’ave lots of coal making lots of ‘eat! Be thankful if the old bod’ is still hanging in there. Be thankful that you serviced your car before it was too late, and be thankful you didn’t shop as much as you might have done just because it’s too cold to go out. That might help solve that December overspending problem we were talking about at the outset.

Keep in mind that an occupational therapist can help you get organized to manage the challenges of winter. They can relieve a lot of the anxiety that builds up when things get to be too much to handle alone. Help is just a phone call away (1.888.323.6861)!

Above all be diligent and be aware, because global warming has a long way to go before Canada‘s snow birds stop flying south for the winter.

Gerry Wood, January 8, 2015