Mark your calendars for our drive-through flu vaccine clinic on Sept. 25 from 9 a.m. to noon. You won’t even have to get out of your car to get your injection. Doctors are telling us that it is even more important to get your flu vaccine this year. Just remember to bring your Medicare or insurance card. They will have flu vaccines for both age groups — seniors and those younger. Pneumonia vaccines will also be available.
Starr Regional Medical Center will also be doing blood sugar and blood pressure checks from the safety of your car. Other sponsors of this event include Hospice of Chattanooga, Etowah Gentle Dental, Etowah Arts Commission, United Way of McMinn and Area Agency on Aging and Disability.
It is very important to take time away from your daily routines. Taking a vacation has many physical and psychological benefits. People who take vacations are less stressed, have less risk of heart disease, have a better outlook on life and are more motivated to achieve goals.
Many of us have elected to forego the usual yearly vacation because of the pandemic. My family, for one, has decided to wait until it is a little safer to travel.
Now that you know how important it is to take time to enjoy yourself, you can decide if you want to take a vacation or a staycation.
In some parts of the country, the quarantine rules are starting to lessen. Most places have recognized the importance of protecting everyone and have gone on to have success in keeping everyone safe.
If you do want to take a fall vacation this year and stay safe, here are some tips you might want to think about:
• Go to a hotel’s web site. They should tell you the steps they are taking to keep their guests safe during the pandemic.
• Call the hotel before arrival. Ask to be put in a room that has been vacant for at least 24 hours.
• Once you arrive at your hotel, sanitize the most touched surfaces. These includes doorknobs, light switches, counter tops, desks, phones, remote controls and faucets. Wash all cups, plates and silverware, unless disposable.
• Grab your medicine, thermometer, hand sanitizer, face masks and disinfectant wipes before you leave.
A really good idea to keep your family safe during a vacation is to travel by RV.
This way, your family sleeps in the same place the whole time. And if you must book a room, you may want to consider a motel rather than a hotel. When you have a motel room, you can drive right up to your door and not have contact with anyone else but your family. Just be sure to sanitize exactly like you would in a hotel.
On the other hand, if you are like thousands of other people, you might want to consider a staycation. The idea of a staycation is to do all the things you would do if you were to travel somewhere. You find ways to incorporate those experiences within your own home. There are many ways to feel like you are on vacation, but not leaving your neighborhood. You will probably save some cash also that you can use in other ways. Here are a few ideas:
• Camp out in your backyard. Pitch a tent, huddle together in sleeping bags and read stories. Light the fire pit and toast marshmallows.
• Have a movie in your backyard. Set up a movie projector and enjoy the outdoors as you would at a drive-in. Invite your neighbors, but make sure you stay in clusters with your own family several feet apart. Be sure each family brings their own snacks.
• Have a family board game tournament. Purchase some new board games. Set up snacks and drinks.
• Play outside. Ride bikes. Go for a hike. There are very many hiking trails close by.
• Have a picnic. Lay down a blanket and enjoy the beautiful outdoors.
• Maybe you always wanted to go to another country. You can bring that country to your house. For example, if you want to go to Italy, prepare an Italian meal. Play Italian music while eating. Then put on a movie that is based in Italy. Learn a few Italian words and have a conversation.
• Install a hammock in your yard. Hang up a bird feeder and watch for different species of birds. You can purchase a book that you can use to identify different species of birds.
• Have backyard Olympics. Set up a variety of backyard games such as corn hole and horseshoes. Or get a couple of eggs and spoons and have a classic egg race.
• You may not be able to go to a spa right now, but you can have a spa day at home. Run bath water and fill with bubbles or even have a milk bath. Place lit candles around the tub. Give yourself a facial. Place cucumbers on your eyes. In about 15 minutes, any puffiness should be gone. There are many homemade recipes online that you can use to pamper yourself.
There are many places to visit that are not far from your home. It will almost be like you are on a real vacation. Here are a few suggestions:
• McMinn Living Heritage Museum in Athens. You will find exhibits on all different aspects of the history of McMinn County such as Native Americans, Civil War, Operation Desert Storm, education, social life, religion and childhood.
• Englewood Textile Museum. Even though I have lived in Englewood for 15 years, I had never been to this museum until we took a trip there with our seniors. You will be surprised at the number of historical items on display. They even have a company store.
• Go on a nature walk. Athens has several wonderful walking trails. At Regional Park, the walking trails wind around the lake or beside North Mouse Creek. The Wetlands Trail next to E.G. Fisher Library offers a wonderful chance to see nature at it’s best. The Eureka Trail runs along an old abandoned railroad line toward Englewood. The Eagle Trail runs along Redfern Drive.
• There are many local attractions to visit within a day’s drive. You don’t even have to stay overnight. These include Rock City, Ruby Falls, Incline Railway, Lost Sea, Tennessee Aquarium and the Creative Discovery Museum. Chattanooga and Knoxville have wonderful zoos. All these attractions are doing a very good job at keeping people safe. You may want to call before going. Some attractions might be by reservation only.
No matter if you decide to just stay at home or take a day trip, just use this time to enjoy your family. When people were asked about their thoughts about what we have been living with, most said that they have enjoyed spending more time with their families. Don’t waste any opportunities to make new memories that you will remember for a lifetime.
Sue Walker is the executive director of the Etowah Area Senior Citizens Center. She may be reached by calling 423-781-7632.