Whether you’re young or old, male or female, healthy or unhealthy, the flu can burden us all. It can spring on anyone at any time and turn a bright and cheery day into a dreary miserable one. And while we all become haunted by stuffy noses and achy joints at one point or another, the flu for a senior could be a lot more dangerous.
Keeping seniors’ immune systems strong is important because they’re more vulnerable to infections. Older immune systems tend to be weaker which allows the flu to turn into more serious conditions such as bronchitis and / or pneumonia. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 90% of seasonal flu-related deaths and more than 60% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations in the United States each year occur in people 65 years and older.
The best thing you could do for an elderly parent when it comes to the flu is not let them get it, period. Prevention becomes essential with age, especially during flu and cold season. The following are tips children and caretakers should keep in mind when trying to keep an older adult healthy.
1. Get vaccinated
With a simple prick of a needle, seniors can have a significantly lower rate of sickness and death. The flu shot is readily available and highly recommended, especially for seniors.
Exercise has a number of benefits for the elderly. Physical activity promotes circulation, heart health, and relaxes the body and mind, all which can help boost the immune system.
It’s easy, it’s relaxing, and you can do it anywhere! Sleep is a natural immune system booster, helping us respond better to stress and inflammation. It’s also shown to improve our response to the flu vaccine.
4. Wash your hands
Wash, wash again, and then wash again. We come into contact with hundreds of thousands of germs A DAY! The spreading of germs is one of the most common ways of catching an illness. So how do we escape these pesky little buggers? You guessed it, wash your hands!
5. Incorporate superfoods into your diet
Diet still matters, no matter how old you are. Foods such as kale, broccoli, avocados, certain mushrooms, and berries have shown to improve seniors’ immune system performance. Some even boost cognitive function and help fight Alzheimer’s disease.
6. Reduce stress
Stress can take over in many different forms, including stomach problems, heart disease, and a poor immune system. Though stress is hard to avoid at times, as a senior, stress reduction is extremely vital for proper health.
7. Try multivitamins or herbal supplements
While there are many goodies we should be taking out of our diets, multivitamins and herbal supplements can be very beneficial to add to them. As a senior, multivitamins and herbal supplements can help increase nutrients and fight off infections.
8. Stay hydrated
Sip some tea, slurp some soup, or savor some coffee, either way, drink water! Keeping mucous membranes moist lowers your chance of getting the flu or a cold. Although staying hydrated is important for all ages, seniors tend to sense thirst less than younger people. They need at least eight or nine glasses of fluid a day.
9. Keep your distance
If you’re a social butterfly, it’s probably best to spread your wings and fly when it’s not cold and flu season. Being a little anti-social can work in your favor during this time since germs and illness are lurking about everywhere. Elderly individuals should consider keeping their distance in cars and elevators or in areas where large groups of people congregate, such as malls.
10. Stay positive
There’s no better medicine than happiness. A healthy outlook on life boosts endorphins, making us feel good. Seniors who stay active with hobbies they enjoy have a better chance of staying positive, healthy, and flu-free.
The flu can be sneaky; you never know when it might strike. But luckily, we can take effective steps to preventing it. For seniors, flu prevention is essential to a healthy and happy life.