But you don’t need to hit the pause button on fall. Here’s a simple road map for making the best of it.
The good news is that even as the virus changes, the advice for staying safer does not. Get vaccinated, get your booster shot, wear a mask in crowded spaces and use home testing to keep your holiday gatherings from becoming spreading events. When making plans, think about the most vulnerable person in your orbit and adjust plans accordingly to keep them as safe as possible. We’ve got a new guide to the latest research on covid-19 booster shots. And learn how regular exercise can make your covid shot more effective.
Flu and other respiratory viruses are crowding hospitals. Get your flu shot today. Like covid, flu can lead to hospitalization and death. And in some cases, flu can lead to long flu, a chronic illness similar to long covid.
As we learned from Brain Matters columnist Richard Sima this month, haunted houses and horror movies can be a lot of fun. Our By the Way team has found 11 of the spookiest places to which you can travel. You may want to invest in a 9½-foot animatronic werewolf to make your house the weirdest on the block. Our Home You Own team has tips for making your house “that crazy Halloween house” this year. Climate reporter Allyson Chiu has advice for making more socially conscious Halloween candy choices. Voraciously has six Halloween cocktails for the grown-ups and an awful ‘scare-cuterie’ severed hand for those who want to serve Halloween’s creepiest food.
Think about outdoor heating.
Outdoor heaters and lamps can sell out quickly. If you’re worried about indoor gatherings or have a family member at high risk, it’s never too soon to start planning for outdoor social events, even in cold weather. Gathering around a fire pit or on a patio warmed by outdoor heaters can be a holiday highlight. We’ve got a guide for warming your outdoor space for entertaining. Wirecutter has tips for the best outdoor heaters.
Plan your fall holiday travel as soon as possible.
Airfares are already on the rise. The By the Way team breaks it down with advice for holiday travel planning. And since covid is still here, check your tickets to make sure you can adjust your flights if someone comes down with the coronavirus. Even though masks are no longer required on airplanes, you’d be wise to wear one given that various coronavirus variants are circulating, and covid cases are expected to surge this fall and winter.
Fall is running season. If you’ve already signed up for a marathon, you can read our 26.2 tips to help you finish. You can use the tips for any race, including a relay race with friends or plan to run a local Turkey Trot.
Consider a mostly vegetarian Thanksgiving.
A devastating bird flu has wiped out turkey flocks around the country, and experts are predicting that turkey prices will surge by 20 percent a pound or more. One solution is to buy a smaller bird (or no bird at all) and amp up the side dishes. We’ve got you covered with the Voraciously: Plant Powered newsletter. Check out advice for getting the most out of fall root vegetables and creating some delicious fall soups.
Have a politics plan for the dinner table.
‘Tis the season for heated family conversations. Teddy Amenabar has advice on how to navigate divergent political views among close family and friends. One surprising bit of advice: Don’t have these conversations at the Thanksgiving table. It will ruin a good meal and won’t accomplish anything other than hurt feelings. Read 9 tips to debunk false claims made by friends and family.
We asked what “aging well” looks like, and more than 500 readers responded. But one idea came up again and again — aging is a lifelong process, so start thinking about aging well when you’re young.
“Once you hit your 40s, you need to realize that the body is not going to react to the same environment that it did when it was 20,” wrote Michelle Justiniano, 54, of Hampton, Va. “We all want to stay young, but realistically, the body is not made to stay that way. ‘Aging well’ means we are still alive to read that book, climb up that hiking trail and eat that late-night dessert. For me, the true key is to stay positive and remain optimistic once that reality hits.”
There’s lots more in the special issue, including why women need to ignore societal messages about growing older, advice for LGBTQ seniors, an online resource to help older adults prepare for doctor’s visits and how to know when your chest pain is or isn’t an emergency.
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