During the cold winter months, it seems every other person has a cold or flu. These seasonal illnesses can be hazardous for the elderly. It has been known that individuals of 65 years and older experience complications as a result of the flu, since their immune systems have weakened with age. Estimates claim that “between 70 percent and 90 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older and between 50 percent and 70 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among people in that age group. So influenza is often quite serious for people 65 and older”. As caregivers aim to assist seniors in all states of wellbeing, they too can have a weakened immune system, caused by chronic stress and fatigue. This typically results in easy transmission of flu-related illness. Let us fill you in on How Seniors Can Avoid the Flu.
Wash or Sanitize Your Hands
Washing your hands frequently for 20 seconds or more, using warm soap and water is instrumental in ridding yourself of unwanted germs. If you’re unable to wash your hands frequently, equipping yourself with hand sanitizer can be a fantastic alternative.
Exercising can boost the immune system by a third and can help in preventing sickness. While sick, however, it is known that exercising in shared public areas like the gym might pass along your germs to others or make your condition worse. Moderate exercise on a regular basis for both the senior and caregiver can help with overall health.
Avoid Touching Your Face
Touching our eyes, nose and mouth is a common habit that people have. Touching these areas directly assists cold and flu germs to enter the body. Along with other practices on the list, this is a key point in how seniors can avoid the flu.
Sanitize Your Surroundings
Surfaces can host lots of germs. Disinfecting bathrooms and kitchens, doorknobs, light switches and counters can be instrumental in keeping a healthy environment. Make sure to also disinfect the rags you clean with as they can harbour lots of germs as well. Items used on a daily basis like cell phones and steering wheels can also benefit from a wipe-down.
Drink Plenty of Fluids
Drinking plenty of fluids helps the nasal passages to stay moist and traps germs before infecting the body. Water, broth soups, natural juices and hot teas can be very helpful.
Eat Nutritious Foods
Eating healthy foods with vitamin C and protein can boost your immune system to help battle the common cold and flu.
Avoid Crowds and Travel
Avoiding uncessary travel or places with crowds during flu season can be very helpful, especially if the area is not well ventilated. In large groups or public places it can be difficult to dodge sneezing, coughing and germs from other people.
Stay Away From People Who Are Sick
Similar to the previous point, being in close proximity and touching someone who is sick, is almost a surefire way to put yourself at risk. Shaking hands, hugging, sharing drinks as well as exposure to coughing and sneezing is an easy way to pick up a virus.
Get the Flu Vaccine
The flu vaccine has been very helpful in preventing people from catching viruses. It is best to receive the flu shot in the fall season since it takes 2 weeks for the vaccine to develop antibodies and protect against the flu. However, it can also be quite helpful even in winter months. A new shot is developed twice a year as the strains of influenza change.
Wear a Mask
Wearing a mask when sick prevents infected bodily fluids from spreading to others and likewise can protect you when others are sick. If a senior or caregiver are sick, wearing a mask can eliminate further illness in their shared environment.
These are practical methods to maintain healthy caregivers and a guide of how seniors can avoid the flu. The idea is to be rid of harmful germs and boost your immune system.
Resources: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/65over.htm | https://dailycaring.com/16-cold-and-flu-prevention-tips-for-seniors-and-caregivers/