Community Blog

Tips for Caring for a Senior Suffering from the Flu

By Vicki and Brian Day

The flu is a truly frightening prospect for senior adults, with up to 74 percent of hospitalizations and 85 percent of deaths related to the disease occurring in this vulnerable population. As a family caregiver, supporting your parent through their experience with the flu can make a tremendous difference in not only them reducing the intensity and length of the symptoms, but also protecting them from the potentially devastating consequences that can occur as a result of the disease.

Use these tips to help you care for a senior who is suffering from the flu:

Encourage plenty of rest. The body needs rest for the immune system to work effectively, so encourage your parent to relax, sleep, and not try to take on too much. Increasing the services of their elder care provider during this time can give them more opportunity to rest.

Serve a healthy diet. Your parent might not have much of an appetite as they are suffering from this virus, but it is important that they get the nutrients they need. Encourage them to consume foods and beverages that will provide protein, vitamins, and minerals to support their immune system and encourage better healing. Smoothies and soups are often good choices.

Keep them hydrated. Hydration is critical when fighting illness. For seniors, the flu can lead to increased risk of dehydration. Encourage your parent to drink regularly throughout the day and consider offering foods that are high in water content, such as soups. Ask their doctor about the use of electrolyte beverages if you are particularly concerned about their hydration.

Ease the symptoms. While they will not help with healing the virus itself, using remedies to ease your parent’s symptoms can help them to feel more comfortable and get better rest. The use of steam or a humidifier can help to loosen a stuffy nose and make breathing more comfortable, a warm compress on the face can ease sinus pain, and warm beverages and foods can reduce chills and body aches.

Know when to go for help. The flu can worsen rapidly. If you notice worsened symptoms, a higher fever or one that will not go away with normal treatments, disorientation or confusion, chest or abdominal pain, or severe vomiting, get your parent to an emergency medical center as soon as possible.

Starting elder care for your aging parent can be an exceptional step toward boosting their quality of life and supporting a more fulfilling, independent, and engaged lifestyle throughout their later years. An elderly home care services provider can be with your parent on a customized schedule that ensures that they have access to the care, support, and assistance that they need at all times, whether that is several hours every day or just occasionally to handle specific tasks. Knowing that your senior parent has access to the personalized services of an elder care provider can give you peace of mind as their adult child, knowing that they are comfortable, safe, and happy, and also ease your stress as their family caregiver, knowing that even when you are not able to be with them, or if you have certain limitations, that their care needs will be fulfilled in the way that is right for them.