Q: My family and I have always loved Halloween, but my husband turned to me yesterday and told me he's not up to carving the pumpkin this year. It takes so much time, makes a huge mess and is exhausting. Last year, we waited until the last minute and barely got to enjoy it.
Can you think of any alternatives?
A: Like with Christmas trees, there are plenty of options for people who don't want the hassle of those kinds of holiday preparations.
Find a ceramic or plastic jack-o'-lantern to put out on the driveway. You can just pop a candle inside — or maybe even plug it into an outlet. Home Goods, Target and Walmart have great festive items at reasonable prices.
Traditions don't have to disappear with age, and you can modify them. Some of the best traditions are more about sharing experiences than sticking to a strict formula.
One great thing about a tradition is that you can pass it along to others. To get in the holiday mood, invite family or friends over to carve a pumpkin. (They can do all the heavy lifting!) — Doug
Q: One of my oldest and dearest friends took a fall at home. I've heard for a long time about how serious a fall can be when you get older, but I didn't realize I was old enough for that to apply to me and my friends. My friend broke his hip and is on bed rest for a few months.
What can I do to avoid the same thing happening to me?
A: It's estimated that 1 in 4 seniors experiences a fall every year, sometimes with severe consequences. The loss of bone density that comes with age makes falling even more impactful. And it can be frightening.
However, there are many ways you can lessen your risk.
One main reason for the increased rate of falls is muscle weakness. If you work on strengthening your body, you'll be much less likely to fall.
Take it slow and careful. Focus on your coordination — don't stress about being able to lift heavy objects. Coordination and balance will keep you on your feet.
There are many resources online and in books for exercises. Most of them don't require any special equipment. The No. 1 thing you can do is simple: be consistent.
Some of these exercises include marching in place, leg lifts in various directions and transitioning from sitting in a chair to standing up. While doing any of these activities, concentrate on your leg muscles. Slow down your movements, keeping them under control.
Aside from exercises, there are other preventative methods. Learn to recognize and avoid some risky activities.
Good lighting will help you avoid falling. If you're walking around at night, turn on the lights. It's easy to tell yourself that it's not a big deal (especially for a short jaunt), but nighttime is when a lot of falls happen.
Avoid obstacles and rough terrain. Declutter your house, getting rid of excess junk on the floors to clear pathways. The more space you have to move, the better.
Outside the home, avoid uneven pavement. Wear closed-toe shoes with traction on the bottom — a good tread will help you keep your footing. Be especially careful if it's wet or icy.
Although one big takeaway from aging is that there are some things we just can't control, this doesn't have to be one of them. Being proactive will help you take control of your life! — Emma, Doug's granddaughter
Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California retirement community. Contact him at [email protected] Emma, Doug's granddaughter, helps write this column. To find out more about Doug Mayberry and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.