The colder months are here and seniors are at risk more than ever for getting the flu virus. The flu can hit seniors hard because they may have weakened immune systems from other medical conditions or advanced age. If a senior resides in a community setting, he or she may also be exposed to the flu and other illnesses, much like a college student who lives in a dorm would be. Luckily, you or a caregiver can take simple steps to help your loved one stay healthy and out of the hospital this flu season.
An Ounce of Prevention
First and foremost, you, the caregiver, and your senior should all get an annual flu vaccine. The strain of flu virus changes every year, and you can either reduce your risk of catching it or lessen the severity of the symptoms if you do get it. Ideally, you should get vaccinated between October and November, but any time in the winter would be acceptable since the flu season can last well into early spring.
Another easy way to dodge the flu is by avoiding sick people. You may want to limit your senior’s exposure to crowds or travel during busy times, when germs are easily spread. Frequent and thorough hand washing is essential, and you and your loved one should also try to avoid touching the mouth, nose, or eyes, which are the usual gateways for viruses to enter the body.
You should also clean and disinfect areas where time is frequently spent, focusing on door handles, bathroom faucets, and even mobile devices and remote controls. Anything that an infected person touches could potentially expose someone to the flu, so wipe surfaces often to kill any lingering germs.
Stay Healthy by Being Healthy
Healthy habits are a must any time of year, but they can be your secret weapon during flu season. Staying hydrated, eating healthy foods, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising regularly are all simple lifestyle choices that promote well-being. They are also powerful flu fighters because they can keep the immune system functioning at its best.
Make It Better
If you or your senior suspect the flu, visit a physician quickly for testing and anti-viral medication. Prescriptions for the flu should be given within the first two days of getting sick or they may not work. You and a caregiver can also offer plenty of liquids and use a humidifier to help your loved one who may be uncomfortable or congested.
If you need other advice to stay healthy this winter, you can contact Home Helpers of Drexel Hill. We can help with homemaker services and respite care to support you or a caregiver as well as your senior.