The holidays can be a bittersweet time for many of us, who have a tough enough time negotiating life with Parkinson’s during normal months. With the holidays there’s more potential for difficulties. There’s temptation to indulge in excess food and drink, and crowds of people in malls and on the road, it’s cold in many places, and it get’s dark early. You see family and friends who have not seen you in a while since maybe things have progressed. It can all be rather overwhelming. Here are 10 suggestions to help make your holiday season more enjoyable and less encumbered by some of these difficulties.1. See your doctor if you feel depressed: Depression is very common during the early winter months of December and January. This may be related to a component of the hustle and bustle of the holidays themselves with all the expectations and disappointments that go with it. But there may also be a component of seasonal affective disorder with shorter days and less light to induce healthy sleep/wake cycles, already interruped in PD. If you casually tell someone you feel depressed very often they may even say, ” don’t worry it’s just the holidays.” Depression is depression. You deserve to be happy and there are some very good treatments available to help you.2. Moderate food and drink: This one is obvious so I’m just reminding you that there is always a lot of peer pressure to indulge. Be especially watchful if you have been sticking to a certain diet that helps your Parkinson’s or if your protein intake has been carefully regulated because you take L-dopa. Let go and indulge occasionally so as not to feel deprived. However, try and stick to the same general diet that you been following all year. Further, I don’t have to remind you that alcohol can exaggerate some of the motor symptoms of imbalance and an already-slowed reaction time, very key during a time when there are a lot of people on the road, not all of them sober.3. When seeing friends and relatives keep it light and upbeat: when a relative or acquaintance asks you how things are going, they don’t always want a blow-by-blow account of where you are with the Parkinson’s. Holidays feel better when you reach out and focus on how they have been, and what they have been doing. As the legendary self-help guru Dale Carnegie said,” get people talking about their favorite subject, themselves.” Try and actually get genuinely curious about others, especially to the degree that keeps you out of your own head. The less attention you give to your own disabilities, the less attention others will focus on them as well.4. Keep exercising: Exercise is the single one best thing you can do for your Parkinson’s. Holiday engagements, shopping, appointments, parties and especially travel, can all get in the way of exercise routine. Do your best even if limited to a guest room or sofa at the house of a relative to try and exercise, get outside and walk, and do anything to try and keep active.5. Avoid the strong temptation toward social isolation: There are several good reasons why a person with PD would want to retreat during the holiday season. You are likely to run into people who you haven’t seen for a while and thus, you may be afraid that they might be able to notice some deterioration or progression of your symptoms. It could be rather cold outside which may affect your symptoms. With less total daytime at this time of year you may feel worsening of your fatigue and daytime sleepiness. No matter what the case, it’s better for you to stay socially engaged, especially during this time of year. Many key relationships get renewed now. Social interaction has been proven to lower the risk of dementia and depression. And of course, as much as you may anticipate it negatively, getting face-to-face with the people you love and cherish almost always turns out much better than you had negatively anticipated. The exception is that you best avoid those who are frankly toxic to you. They get worse during the holidays.6. Prepare all your clothing the night before a social event: especially if you have particular difficulty with dressing. The normal time it takes to wait for medications to work in the morning, plus any feelings of fatigue or daytime sleepiness may push you towards the tendency to isolate. If you’re closer to being ready to go by having things our, you’ll likely find more strength and conviction to resist that temptation to stay home. This can be especially true in the cold weather which can be particularly discouraging.7. Time your shopping and driving to less-than-peak times: it is not social isolation to want to avoid crowds and traffic. People become impatient from waiting in line or in traffic. Many of the limitations of Parkinson’s disease tend to slow us down relative to normal folk. As you know there many times when you just can’t help it, but try to avoid situations where you might find yourself as the one holding up a line of impatient people.8. Get your medical ducks in line for next year: make sure insurance premiums are paid, you have your next neurology appointment scheduled, and if you are receiving or applying for any special assistance programs or disability payouts, check that all your paperwork is in order and where it needs to be on time. Also check your medications for the number of refills left, etc. so that you can enter the new year well taken care of.9. If you live anywhere cold stock up on frozen microwave-able meals: When there’s a snowstorm, just walking outside can be treacherous for a sufferer of PD. When the roads are icy and sidewalks and walkways hazardous, then despite what I’ve said about social isolation, it is time to retreat to solitude and keep safe if you suffer significant gait disturbances, at least until roads become safer and walkways get cleared. Frozen meals are easy to unwrap and prepare. If you cannot afford frozen meals then make contact with a local “Meals-on-wheels” charitable organization. Frozen meals are better than storing canned food because of ease of preparation and balance and variety. The disadvantage is that many contain lots of preservatives and other compounds typical of processed food. Read the ingredients.10. Make sure your other health issues, if any, are also well taken care of for the coming year: this includes going to see an internist even if you are otherwise fairly healthy. Many people with Parkinson’s often feel that because they’ve struck bad luck once in the disease department, a second strike would be unlikely. Forget it. You’ve got to keep up with the general health maintenance. Parkinson’s does not lower the risk of other diseases. In fact there is an association of increased risk for Parkinson’s among patients with type II diabetes.Now please safely enjoy the holiday season!
Halloween is a great tradition that is a part of most everyone’s childhood memories. Kids (and many adults, too) get to dress up and be something or someone else for a day. They get to go from house to house, knocking on doors and asking for candy. The holiday originated with Celtic rituals dating back thousands of years, and the first official citywide celebration of Halloween in the United States took place in Anoka, Minnesota in 1921.As the years have gone by, however, fears have increased about the safety of children during the holiday. The days are gone when anyone would allow their child to roam the streets at will and unsupervised. Halloween can still be a fun and safe adventure for kids if parents stay alert and follow a few safety guidelines, however. These guidelines fall into three general categories:1. Costumes: Make sure your child’s costume is enhanced for visibility. Many costumes are dark, and reflective tape can be added. Costumes should fit well, since a too-long costume can be a trip hazard, especially at night. In fact, falls are the leading cause of accidents on Halloween night. Face paint is preferable to masks in that it does not impede vision like many masks do. If a mask is worn, it should have large eye holes and some type of opening for both the nose and mouth. Any accessories such as knives and swords should be made from flexible material, so that they do not injure a child in case of a fall.2. Treats: The good news about treats is that the possibility that children may be given tainted Halloween candy is, by and large, nonexistent. A few isolated incidents have occurred, but much of the hype over this was generated by urban legends that were spread around, and the media. However, it is still in the realm of possibility, and all candy should be inspected by parents before it is consumed by children. It is a good idea to make sure children are well-fed with a good dinner before setting out to trick or treat, as this will reduce the probability of premature snacking before inspection can occur. Sticking to familiar neighborhoods should also minimize the risk. Candy should be inspected to make sure it is in its original packaging, and that the packaging is intact (no loose wrapping, holes, tears, etc.).3. The Journey: An adult or older teenager should supervise children at all times. Children should never enter anyone’s home without the adult present. Plan the route and establish a return time. Only stop at well-lit homes. Walk on sidewalks, or if the street must be used, walk on the left side of the road facing traffic. No running–uneven sidewalks and yards can cause falls. Carrying a flashlight is also a good idea. As for older teenagers and adults who may be driving that evening, extreme caution must be exercised. Watch for children darting out from between parked cars. Children may not have on the recommended reflective tape, so watch out for those in dark clothing. Enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully. Another consideration is animals. Pet owners should have their animals securely pinned up, as the increased foot traffic and presence of strangers is sure to get animals, particularly dogs, worked up. However, there could be dogs or other stray animals loose, and children should be on the lookout.In ancient times, the Celtics celebrated the holiday now known as Halloween by lighting huge bonfires and burning sacrifices to their gods. The rituals were somber in those days, but fortunately times have changed, and Halloween is a day for fun and perhaps a bit of harmless mischief. By following the tips listed above, adults and children alike can enjoy a mostly worry-free celebration on October 31.
The collapse of travel company Goldtrail has left thousands of holidaymakers stranded in Greece and Turkey and many more wondering what will happen to their already booked holiday plans.Here we attempt to address some of the key issues surrounding the debacle, including what existing travellers can do and how future holidaymakers can avoid similar issues no matter which company they book with.What is Goldtrail Travel?Goldtrail Travel operated package holidays as well as hotel and flight deals, the majority of which were sold through travel agents online, on the high street and over the phone. Its brands include Goldtrail Holidays, Goldtrail Travel and Sunmar.The company was registered under the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL scheme.What happens if you are on holiday with Goldtrail?At the time of the collapse around 15,000 people were overseas having booked holidays through Goldtrail. However, for those abroad there was no need for immediate panic – they should have been able to complete their holiday, remain in their hotel and return home as normal – although flight times may have been altered.However, understandably, there has been a lot of misinformation that has circulated as people fear being stranded abroad. For the complete picture, the CAA should be able to guide you.Should any hotelier ask you to pay an additional sum for your accommodation you should speak to the CAA – it may ask you to pay again or seek alternative accommodation. Certainly if you do pay again, be sure to hang on to any receipts so you can potentially claim refunds later. Similarly, refer to the CAA regarding any additional charges for your flight – flights are protected and you should be able to return without additional charges.What happens if you have booked a package holiday through Goldtrail?Anyone who has bought a package holiday through Goldtrail should bear in mind that the company has not been allowed to take people abroad since the evening of July 16, 2010. Therefore it will be necessary to apply for a refund via the CAA.As the process of ascertaining a refund is relatively long-winded, it’s a good idea to contact your travel agent and find out what paperwork will be needed, or look on the CAA website. This should help to speed up the process.While the collapse of XL Holidays led to travellers not receiving their refund for several months, this situation shouldn’t occur with Goldtrail simply because Goldtrail is a much smaller company with fewer holidaymakers to deal with.What happens if you have booked a flight only through Goldtrail?If you had booked a flight through Goldtrail then you are entitled to a refund thanks to the CAA ATOL scheme – simply follow the same procedures outlined for holiday refunds.However, where the situation becomes more complicated is if you had booked separate accommodation, not through the company. If that’s the case and you still want to continue with your holiday then you will need to find new flights and pay for those at whatever the market rate may be – the only money you will be entitled to claim is the price of your original Goldtrail flight, not any difference that may occur with a replacement flight. It is however, worth contacting your travel insurance company to see if it will cover these costs under its cancellation terms.Should you decide to forgo your accommodation then you will need to pay the necessary cancellation charges – again, its worth checking with your travel insurance company to see if these fees are covered.What happens if you had booked accommodation only through Goldtrail?In the instance that you had only booked a hotel or accommodation through Goldtrail, then bear in mind that they are not covered under the ATOL scheme. Assuming the transaction was for more than £100 then your best bet is to approach your credit card provider if you paid by MasterCard, Visa or American Express. Another option is to approach your travel insurance company, but you will only receive a payout for your loss if the insurer offers an ‘end supplier failure’ feature in its policy.How can these problems be avoided going forward?If you’re yet to book a holiday abroad then it would be understandable if you shied away from the prospect for fear that a travel company may be in danger.However, everyone deserves a break and as long as you do your homework beforehand you should be able to travel with peace of mind. Check that the travel company you are using is registered under the ATOL scheme and take out travel insurance immediately after you book your trip. Pay particular attention to the ‘end supplier failure’ option, which is not offered by all insurers, to ensure you are covered in case a company goes bust.