Over the past two years, health concerns posed by the COVID-19 pandemic have made life more perilous for seniors—as well as the family members who care for them.
But COVID-19 is not the only viral threat to seniors: Enter flu season, with its annual serving of contagious symptoms and virus-related complications for individuals, families, and, most perilously, elderly couples. When you live within the same confines as someone who has the flu, it can be quite difficult to dodge those infectious germs. What’s worse, there is no can’t-fail method in which to prevent yourself from catching it.
There are, however, some steps seniors and caregivers can take to substantially reduce the risks of the flu and, with a bit of luck, remain free from infection while providing support to your sick loved one. Here are some helpful tips on how, provided by Sixty and Me contributor Jessica Hegg.
1. Look After Yourself
It is your body’s job to protect you from the flu, so fortify it with the fuel it needs to do so. Eat lots of fruit and vegetables, stay hydrated, and stock up on a supplement which aids the immune system in its function such as vitamin C and/or D, all while avoiding such detrimental indulgences like alcohol consumption.
2. Get Your Annual Flu Shot
Prevention is always your best defense, which is why seniors, and anyone, should never skip your annual flu shot. The flu virus itself evolves so rapidly that it is important to receive this injection every year, otherwise, your immune system may not be equipped to fend off these bugs. If you have forgotten to do so this year and your spouse or family member is already sick, then speak to your doctor about the vaccination anyway, as it might still help.
3. Wash Your Hands Regularly
Keep germs off your body, especially where they can easily transfer into your system like your eyes, nose, and mouth. The simplest way to achieve this is washing your hands regularly, especially after dealing with the ill person in question. Use antibacterial soap, concentrate on your fingernails, and keep alcohol-based sanitizers around every corner.
4. Clean All Surfaces Regularly
Much like your hands, every surface needs to be constantly disinfected to prevent germs from spreading. Scour your house for the most commonly touched areas and attack them with your strongest cleaning products. Start with the countertops, doorknobs, fridge handles, faucets, television remotes, keyboards, and phones. These viruses have been known to live up to 48 hours on certain surfaces, so clean thoroughly.
5. Open a Window
Obviously, a cold breeze blowing onto an unwell person is not a smart idea, but it’s still important to get some fresh oxygen circulating around the house for your own breathing benefit. Open up a few windows in every room (other than the one where your ill spouse or family member resides). Or better yet, go for a walk and enjoy the clean air outside.
6. Maximize Your Hydration
It’s important for seniors to keep their water levels high, much like your ill spouse or family member in need. This will help your blood circulation which means a stronger defense system against the flu virus—not to mention all the other immeasurable health advantages that water provides.
7. Get Enough Sleep
Another way to ensure that your immune system is in top form is to get your seven to eight hours of nightly slumber. These resting periods will assist your body’s rejuvenation process, helping it to fight off infections much easier. It’s also advisable that you sleep in a different room than your ill spouse or family member for the duration of their illness for additional protection.
About The GreenFields Continuing Care Community
The GreenFields Continuing Care Community provides for the physical, social, and spiritual needs of residents in a Christian environment. In addition to skilled nursing, subacute rehabilitation, and outpatient therapy at GreenField Health & Rehabilitation Center, The GreenFields offers a variety of living arrangements and support levels based on individual needs. This includes independent living apartments in GreenField Manor; assisted living apartments in GreenField Court; and memory care and enhanced assisted living in GreenField Terrace.