Fall has arrived and soon enough the holidays will be here! In our family, we have a rotating Thanksgiving, meaning that we only host it at our house every 2 years, thank goodness. However, on our off years, we have to pack up and make the long trip to my parents’ town or Chet’s hometown, and because there are four of us, there isn’t room for us to all cram into their small houses. I like to book the same hotel year after year to give us some consistency, and even though we’ve gotten pretty comfortable with our favorite hotels, I still worry about the germs hiding all over the room. You might find it stressful to check into an environment that you have no control over cleaning and sanitizing, and don’t worry you’re not alone!
Here are some important warning signs and tips I’ve picked up over the years during our holiday stays on how to keep your home away from home spic and span:
- Before booking a room, read reviews from previous visitors. Customer reviews are known to be brutally honest, so if there is a red flag raised, avoid that reservation. There are so many different places to read and post reviews which made it super simple for me to find the perfect place for my family.
- Upon entering the room, inspect it for bed bugs. Even though we come to the same place year after year, I have no idea who’s slept there in the meantime. Place your luggage in the bathroom. Although it sounds a bit like overkill, bring a small flashlight with you; this will make it easier to complete your inspection. Start with the mattress, as this is the most common area for bed bugs. Gently lift the sheet and mattress pad inspecting along edging, seams and other small areas a bed bug might hide. Continue your inspection with the headboard. Use your flashlight to look in the crack between the wall and the headboard. Believe me, a few minutes of investigation for these nasty creatures will put your mind at ease throughout your stay and prevent you from bringing potential bugs home with you.
- Remove bed comforters and put them in the closet. It is standard to change linens between guests but as gross as it is, hotels don’t always change bed comforters. Set the temperature of the room so your family will be comfortable sleeping or bring your own blanket. The kids always bring their own to make themselves feel more comfortable as if they were right at home in their own beds.
- Pack antibacterial wipes and quickly go over all touchable surfaces and objects in the room. This can be done quickly to disinfect the living space for the duration of your stay in case hotel staff missed anything. Be certain to wipe down doorknobs, phone receiver, toilet handles, faucets, light switches, TV remote controls and ice bucket.
- Wash the water glasses thoroughly with hot water. Most hotels do not wash glasses between guests; they only wipe them down with cloths, ew!
These are all easy steps you can take as soon as you check in to make your entire stay much more comfortable and healthy. Believe me, coming back to a clean hotel room after a long day of family holiday festivities is worth the few minutes of cleaning.
I find that keeping good health records for you and your loved ones will serve you well not only in an emergency but in everyday situations, too. The time the task requires is insignificant to the benefits it offers, and once you have a simple system in place, health records are easy to maintain. Even though doctors and hospitals keep patient records, it is best to think of those as backup documentation, not only because your own records will provide a more detailed synthesis of all of your health-oriented experiences, but also because things happen: floods, fires, relocations, computer crashes, human error, to name a few.
Start by creating a hard copy file for each individual whose health you are tracking. Keep the files in an easily accessible place; you will use them more often than you might think, even when everyone is in excellent health. Having files handy will help you avoid the temptation to add a recent blood work result to a pile of bills or school papers with the vague intention of filing them later.
Depending on individual circumstances and your own need for detail, you can have sub-category files for each person in the household. Dental and vision records would be an example. Athletes might consider a separate file that documents injuries, prescribed therapies and experiences related to sports medicine. Immunizations are an easy thing to lose track of, but if you keep a document of them, you will be immensely pleased with yourself for being organized should you have the occasion to travel out of the country, and each August when the time comes to fill out children’s school records, which need updated annually.
Consider, also, printing up a record of current medications your family is taking, including vitamins and supplements. If confidentiality is an issue, put the information in a sealed envelope labeled “Current Meds” and tape it to your refrigerator. In an emergency, you can grab it for the trip to an urgent care site. In dire circumstances, where emotions run high and stress hampers clear thinking, or an ill or injured member is alone or unable to communicate, paramedics are often trained to look for such documents on the refrigerator. In fact, some hospitals and medical practices give away magnetized versions of these forms, which can be updated with a dry erase marker, at health fairs and other events. Keeping information current is a crucial component of the value of this document.
Long term, your medical records can inform future generations. Consider making a copy of your health records to pass along to your children when they grow up and leave home. This information will be invaluable to them and their healthcare practitioners for determining risk factors of inherited diseases and conditions, and may assist them in implementing preventative measures that could prolong their own good health.
I love Valentine’s Day! I find that Valentine’s Day is the perfect vehicle for expressing our care for the special people in our lives. Flowers are lovely but quickly fade. Other traditional gifts of decadent chocolates, good wine, and rich meals at fancy restaurants are fine if our loved ones aren’t battling weight issues, high blood pressure or cholesterol. But sometimes those tempting indulgences may be the very things those loved ones are trying to avoid, with varying degrees of success. Don’t sabotage someone’s New Year’s resolutions with the wrong Valentine’s Day gift!
Try a new expression of love this year with a gift that supports or even improves health. Depending on your budget and circumstances, you can spend a lot or a little or sometimes nothing but your time. Here are twelve innovative and healthy ways to say “I love you” on Valentine’s Day. They may inspire more romance than you ever expected.
1. Write your sweetie a coupon good for companionship on daily walks, or a weekly hike at a nearby park or woods.
2. A gift certificate for therapeutic massage can offer a sweet reward for someone trying to start a regular exercise routine.
3. Smoking cessation programs might be the tipping point of resolve for a loved one trying to take that plunge away from nicotine addiction.
4. A trial membership at a health club might also spur someone to take action on new and healthy forms of recreation.
5. Gift certificates to a health food store or organic grocery might tickle your resident foodie. Fruit-of-the-month club shipments are a healthy luxury, especially in winter.
6. One forty-something woman whose family has a history of cancer scheduled herself and her husband for an overdue cancer screening with a dermatologist the week of Valentine’s Day, then treated her husband to lunch after the appointment. They celebrated their clean bill of health together.
7. If your budget allows, a Wii system for your home television offers a whole spectrum of fun, interactive physical activities for the whole family, everything from golf and tennis to yoga and strength exercises. You have to try it to believe it.
8. There are excellent audio CD’s available that can help people manage stress, weight loss, grief, anxiety, depression, chronic illness, pain, smoking cessation, surgery recovery and a host of other issues. Shop your local bookstores or check out companies that specialize in these products, such as http://www.healthjourneys.com.
9. Give a subscription to a magazine or publication that is dedicated to your loved one’s special goals or interests. Sports, fitness, healthy cooking, hobbies, travel—all good choices.
10. A journal with a nice writing instrument is a meaningful gift for anyone who has a long held desire to write or could benefit from a place to channel expression or goal progress. There are also excellent computer journaling programs on the market.
11. A gift certificate to a sporting goods shop or hobby supply store will support your loved one’s efforts to channel time and energy to healthy activities.
12. Add extra festiveness to any of these gifts by combining some of them into a gift basket to which you have added some healthy snacks, fresh fruit, seltzer waters or juices, fragrant lotions, candles or items that match the gift, like running socks, a yoga mat, hand weights or multi-vitamins.