For most of us, seniors included, the summer holidays are synonymous with family gatherings, shopping expeditions, and possibly a bit of travel.

Here are a few holiday tips to make this a safe and healthy end of 2013:

Carry a bottle of water


If you’re planning to be on the road, it’s important to keep yourself properly hydrated. Australia’s harsh summer climate and the great distances we often have to travel to reach family, friends and holiday destinations can be a dangerous combination – especially if you not so young anymore.

It’s a well-known fact that people over the age of 65 years are at greater risk for heat-related illnesses like heat stroke and sunstroke – your body’s temperature-control mechanisms simply don’t work as well anymore. What’s more, certain chronic medications can increase your risk. Staying well hydrated is one of your best defences.

Remember your meds


Make sure you have all the medication you’re going to need (and even a bit extra) before the festive season starts. The last thing you want to deal with is running out of hypertension tablets on Christmas Day when pharmacies are closed.

Make sure you pack all your medication if you’re going away – preferably keep things in their original packaging, especially if you’re going abroad.

Prevent nasty accidents


Don't be tempted to climb up onto ladders and chairs to put up decorations, especially if you’re at home on your own. Nasty accidents have happened this way. In fact, in the UK most DIY accidents involve ladders.

Be careful with Christmas shopping


Crowded shopping centres can be both overwhelming and dangerous if you’re not so steady on your feet. Give a relative a shopping list, or be at the shops the minute they open, before the crowds arrive. Someone else's shopping trolley can give you a nasty injury, and slippery floors, especially in supermarkets, can cause a serious fall.

Plan to have people around you


Do make plans for the festive season in advance, especially if you’re on your own. Loneliness and depression can be very real problems over the holiday season. Rather than spending the day on your own, invite a few friends or neighbours. Share the cooking, play cards, watch a DVD or simply relax together.

Also be aware that large family gatherings can be noisy and confusing, so don’t stay too long if you find things a little overwhelming.

Watch your step


If you’re in someone else's house, take care not to trip over slippery rugs, or fall over kids' toys. Be very aware of unfamiliar surroundings, especially when you’re in rooms with tiled surfaces, such as kitchens and bathrooms.

Also limit your alcohol intake, as a glass or two too many can make you accident-prone.

Keep an eye on your diet


Watch what you eat, especially if you have a condition such as diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol. There could be hidden sugar, unhealthy fats and salt in unfamiliar foods.

If you have digestive disorders of any kind, it’s best to avoid the temptation of too much festive fare.

Pick the right time


If you’re driving to a holiday destination, try travelling outside peak times. Use the fact that you’re not tied to a job or school terms to your advantage.

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