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Staying Healthy Even When Your Grandkids Have Cooties

By Debra L. Karplus, MS, OTR/L

Snuggling with your grandkids is one of life’s greatest joys.  You know how precious those moments are because someday those adorable cuddly little ones will transform into adolescents; they’ll let you know in numerous ways that being around old folks like you, even if you’re only inyour fifties, is very un-cool.  After all, if their peers noticed them even casually hugging you, their middle school social status could be ruined!

Infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children seem to be “leaky” from bottom to top.  Once kids enter school they’re exposed to all sorts of maladies, typically minor.  As you, the grandparent ages, springing back from even minor illnesses seems to take longer than before.  So how can you stay healthy while maintaining a loving relationship with your grandkids?

Everyone knows noses that run are not fun.

Teach your grandkids to cover their mouth and nose when they cough or sneeze.   Instruct them on how to blow their nose and properly discard the tissue.  Let them know the times when hands should be washed and the procedure for doing so.  Make sure you practice what you preach on these issues, especially thorough hand washing.  And keep your immune system at its maximum level of functioning by practicing good health habits pertaining to diet, exercise, sleep and stress management.

A case of chicken pox threatens those with aging internal clocks.

Immunizations have virtually wiped out many of the communicable diseases baby boomers had when they were in school, such as mumps and measles.   But children still get chicken pox and it is highly contagious.  It’s a relatively harmless illness in kids, but can be far more serious in adults.  If you have already had chicken pox, don’t give a sigh of relief.

Adults who’ve had childhood chicken pox and are exposed to the disease later in life can develop shingles, a herpes zoster virus that can become quite serious and very uncomfortable, particularly in people over sixty years old. Shingles affects approximately one million adults each year.  Talk with your physician about the shingles vaccine.

Trust this advice; head lice are not nice.

Perhaps your grandchild recently came home from school with a letter saying that someone in his or her classroom has head lice.  Maybe your grandchild, yes, the one with the beautiful long curly hair who loves rolling around on the kindergarten carpet with her friends, is the culprit.  Head lice know no class.  A case of head lice are not a sign of poverty; children from nice, clean, upper middle class households get them, too, sometimes more than once.

Adult baldness has its advantages when it comes to incidence of head lice. But adults with hair get head lice the same ways children do.  If you suspect that your grandchild has head lice, avoid sharing combs and brushes, or hats.  Be careful with pillows and bedding.  Grandparents with long hair might consider tying it back if head lice might be suspected.  These are the most common ways that head lice spread.

If you do find yourself feeling itchy around your ears or back of the head, pay attention because the little cooties are barely visible unless someone does a thorough search of your head.  But don’t despair.  Your local pharmacist can direct you to several over-the-counter products, including fine tooth metal combs and shampoos that will destroy the little critters if directions are carefully followed.

You can be close to your grandkids without worry.  Follow a few simple habits.  Your relationship with your grandkids will be healthy in more ways than one.

Author biography:  Debra Karplus is a licensed occupational therapist, teacher, and freelance writer for national magazines, baby boomer, and grandmother of two. She lives in a Midwestern college town.  She has been published in Grand Magazine in the past.  Learn more about her at https://debrakarplus.blogspot.com




Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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