This year will certainly be a different Christmas for all. Many of us will have to be at home or choose to be at home. Many of us will have to choose ‘who’ we spend Christmas with due to logistics, regulations or simply because we don’t want to mix households.
Even though we may be at home more this festive season it doesn’t mean the Christmas cheer has disappeared. Even more reason to up the festive spirit and we have a few ideas for you:
1. Decorate lots – this year most people have started early on the Christmas decorations and most trees have been adorned with fairy lights, baubles and tinsel. Remember to decorate more this year so you really feel in the festive mood. There are a lot of DIY ideas online or many stores selling everything sparkly. Immerse your home into a winter wonderland as you will be at home more this season.
2. Home baking – Now we all learnt a lot more about baking during the lockdown but now you can put your cooking skills to the test with fun food. Reindeer cookies, snowball cocktails or fab nibbles and treats for all the family to enjoy.
3. Games – games are not only fun they really get everyone involved (as long as no arguments!). It is good to get some competition going, mind thinking and also helps to pass a good amount of time. Maybe have a nice prize for the winner on hand . If you prefer to enjoy a game on your own puzzles are great, not only are they satisfying once the picture starts to take shape and you aim for completion of that last puzzle piece.
So one country claims they are the perfect holiday destination for those who suffer from breathing allergies but which ‘A is it???
The Alps in Austria are full of fresh mountain air, low pollen counts and ideal temperatures. Destinations such as the National Park district of Krimml, Tyrolean alps or Obergurgl pine forest are advertised as the perfect holiday for allergy and asthma sufferers with its high altitude levels and cleansed air.
So if you are stuck for a holiday destination that will help you breathe easy take a look at Austria, if the mountains and pine forests are not your chosen holiday then there is always a nice sunny beach in Spain for relaxation and sunshine!
Whatever stage your respiratory disease may be at, preventing flare-ups is highly important to ensure you stay as healthy as possible and to keep your breathing as easy as possible. This means you need to be aware of the triggers and eliminating any exposure to cigarette smoke, fire smoke, dust, chemicals, excessive wind and pollution. Breathing can also be difficult at temperatures around or below freezing, above 90 degrees F, or on days with high humidity, ozone levels or pollen counts.
Many patients have a component of asthma and some prefer warm, dry climates whereas others may prefer more humid environments.
Extreme hot or cold conditions can put stress on the entire body. In order to maintain a constant body temperature, you exert additional energy to warm or cool it down. This additional energy requirement also increases the amount of oxygen that your body is using. Breathing hot or cold air can also have a drying or irritating effect on the airway causing bronchospasm (contraction of the smooth muscle that surrounds the airway). This decreases the size of the airway and makes it more difficult to get the air in and out of the lung, increasing shortness of breath.
In general most patients find that they prefer minimal humidity levels of about 40%. This is also true of indoor humidity levels which can be difficult to maintain throughout the year, if it is a hot summer or a cold winter with the heating on. You can purchase a humidifier that works with your heating system or independent units for single rooms. De-humidifiers can also be purchased to help lower the humidity in certain rooms.
High indoor humidity is often also the source of mould growth in the home which is another trigger, as well as an increase in common indoor air pollutants like dust mites, cockroaches, bacteria and viruses. Also as humidity increases, the density of the air increases. This more dense air creates more resistance to airflow in the airway, resulting in an increased work of breathing (i.e. more shortness of breath).
Look out for common signs of high humidity:
• flooding or rainwater leaks from the roof or basement/crawl space
• poorly connected pipes or leaky pipes under sinks or in showers
• carpet that remains damp
• poorly ventilated bathrooms and kitchens
• condensation build-up from humidifiers and dehumidifiers, air conditioners, and drip pans under refrigerators/freezers
Here are some helpful pointers for when it is hot, although many are applicable to other weather conditions as well:
1. Drink plenty of fluids, fairly obvious for Australians, but please take into account if you have a fluid restriction.
2. Wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen.
3. Plan your activities carefully. Try to organise your activities or exercise for the coolest times of the day – early in the morning, or in the evening. When driving, park in shady areas if possible, and choose places to go that are air conditioned. Place sun protectors in your car when it is parked.
4. Keep cool, indoors. Use your air-conditioner if you have one and remember you do not need it to be freezing cold. A second benefit of the air conditioner is that it removes a great deal of humidity from the air as it cools it. If an air conditioner is not available, use fans and open windows to circulate the air during hot days. Special programmes are available in many places.
5. Use the buddy system. This means making sure that someone contacts you at least twice a day to check that you are OK.
6. Avoid rigorous exercise or excess activity.
7. Take your medications as directed.
8. Pay attention to weather reports.
References: www.healthline.com and http://lungfoundation.com and https://rotech.com
Holidays can be the experience of a lifetime but they can also be expensive and stressful to organise. If you are older, suffer a disability or chronic disease then you may have the additional expense of insurance, organising medical equipment or oxygen and perhaps having to pay more in order to have suitable accommodation. Swapping homes with another person in the country you want to vacate in could be the answer.
If they have similar circumstances then their home will be already adapted or suitable for your needs. It will feel more homely than a hotel room or apartment. The owner will have contacts for reliable services you may need whilst on your stay and have local knowledge and suggestions for places to visit. Most of all, you will save a lot of money on accommodation and can either save that money or spend it to do extra special things on your holiday that you may otherwise be ill-afford to have done.
Because you’re both swapping homes then both parties are in the same boat when it comes to safety and ensuring that your home is looked after. You can exchange concerns and wishes prior to the exchange and only confirm the exchange once you are happy to do so. There is also the support from the company that you do it through.
Some people swap for just a week or two, or some go on longer holidays for a few months and live in a different home in different countries and travel around the world. You may stay 2 weeks in Dubai, 2 weeks in Croatia a week in Spain and another in France, the world is you oyster. All you need to do is find a home exchange partner in each country that is available around the time of your holiday. There are members that have second homes or holiday homes with a lot of availability.
All you need to do is join, list your property, search for members’ homes that you’re interested in staying in, communicate all your needs and arrangements and then enjoy a fabulous holiday!
If you’re worried about arranging medical equipment or oxygen if you wish to travel from place to place then don’t be, there are global companies that can provide you continuous support for the whole duration of your holiday even across different countries.
Home Exchanges are becoming increasingly popular as the cheapest and best way to enjoy your holiday!
References: www.homeexchange.com and www.guardianhomeexchange.co.uk and www.oxygenworldwide.com