News Briefs

Keeping Happy and Not Sad During Winter

Winter is one of the hardest times of the year for many, and feelings of sadness, loss, or isolation are very common especially among older adults. The holidays are over, the days are cold and short, less light for Vitamin D, there are fewer nutrient-rich foods around and it’s harder to get exercise than in the nice months. It’s all a recipe for high anxiety and suffering from a type of depression called Seasonal Affect Disorder, or SAD.

People suffering from SAD can set themselves into a depression, which is the most common ailment in those aged 60 and over. Mystic Valley Elder Services clinical team offers some positive steps that may help you feel healthier this winter.

Acknowledge your feelings and let yourself off the hook. It is okay not to feel cheerful all the time.

Reach out. Being alone and lonely are not the same thing but if you are feeling particularly isolated, please seek out your community. Book clubs, activity groups in your building, senior centers, volunteering, and civic or religious organizations are good places to start. Broaden your friendships.

Do not abandon healthy habits. Be kind to your body and mind by maintaining your self-care practices. Eat well and get plenty of sleep.

Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Even if you spend plenty of time on your own, dedicating time to spend on yourself will help you return to yourself.

Seek professional help if you need it. You may find it empowering to face the winter with your own health and well-being in mind. However, despite your best efforts, you may feel persistently sad or anxious, unable to sleep, and dismayed by even routine tasks. If these feelings last for a while, ask for help.

If you need professional help, Mystic Valley Elder Services operates a Mobile Mental Health program for older adults who need professional mental health services but are unable to leave their homes for treatment or counseling. Through its Mobile Mental Health program, clinical caseworkers provide outreach to elders experiencing mental-health conditions that impact their functioning and ability to get their needs met. To find out more about this program, call us at 781-324-7705.

Fire Marshall Releases Christmas Tree Safety Tips

With Christmas officially in the rearview, the State Fire Marshal is alerting citizens to fire safety tips regarding Christmas trees.

Officials say that the holidays are a peak time for home fires caused by unattended candles and space heaters, electrical problems with worn lights, and dry Christmas trees.

“A dry Christmas tree is extremely flammable,” said State Fire Marshal. “These types of fires can turn deadly within seconds, allowing little time for escape. Check your tree’s water every day. Don’t risk the chance of fire and the loss of family, friends or your home.”

The top three days for home candle fires occur on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. In several cases, the fires result from people falling asleep or leaving their home with unattended candles left burning.

As a result, residents are urged to keep candles away from the tree, decorations, curtains, and furniture that can catch fire.

Citizens are also encouraged to practice the following safety tips:

Choose a fresh tree, water it daily, and place it away from exits and at least three feet from any heat source (fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights).

Never decorate your tree with lit candles; use lights that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory for indoor or outdoor use.

Any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections should be replaced; read the manufacturers’ instructions for the maximum number of light strands to connect and don’t overload electrical outlets or electrical outlet strips.

Always turn off tree lights and extinguish candles when going to bed or leaving your home.

A dry Christmas tree can fully ignite in less than a minute, according to a video shared by fire safety officials.

Citizens are also encouraged to take all precautions relating to smoke detectors by:

Checking each smoke alarm monthly.

Changing your smoke alarms every 10 years.

Changing the batteries in nine-volt smoke alarms every year.

Installing a smoke alarm on every level of your home and in every sleeping area.

Having a prepared and practiced fire escape plan with two ways out of the home.

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