People ages 65 and older have a higher risk of serious complications from the flu because their immune system defenses weaken somewhat with age. These older adults account for more than one half of all flu-related hospitalizations (50%-70%) and the most flu-related deaths (85%), according to Medscape.
Learn more about avoiding the flu and colds and what to do if you get sick.
12 Ways to Stay Healthy This Cold and Flu Season
Here are some practical cold and flu season prevention tips that can help keep you feeling healthy this year.
1. Don’t Touch Your Face
Illness can enter the body quickly through your eyes, nose and mouth. Touching your face, even inadvertently, can speed up the dangerous process. To reduce the risk of getting sick, minimize touching your face.
2. Drink Plenty of Liquids
Staying hydrated can help the body battle germs better. Take note, though, that heavily caffeinated drinks can actually cause you to lose hydration.
At Bel Aire Senior Living, we have a hydration program where our caregivers go to every resident three times a day and refill waters to make sure everyone is staying properly hydrated.
3. Get a Flu Shot
Older adults are especially vulnerable to dangerous complications of the flu. Older adults are also most likely to be hospitalized for complications of the flu. It’s a good idea to check with your doctor to make sure you don’t have any health issues that could be aggravated by the vaccination.
4. Keep Your Surroundings Clean
Multiple hands can spread germs through door knobs, light switches and other household things. Be sure to wipe clean anything that gets a lot of touches.
Also sanitize your mobile devices. Clean them regularly with sanitizing wipes or rubbing alcohol, but be careful not to wet the electronics.
5. Stay Away from People Who Are Sick
Watch your own health by keeping your distance from people who are sick. If you find yourself around a sick person, limit your contact and avoid unnecessary touching like shaking hands or hugging. Also avoid touching anything they’ve touched.
6. Stay Away If You’re Sick, Too
If you have the flu, you need to stay home to get well.Other people are trying to keep themselves well, too, and won’t want to interact with anyone who isn’t feeling well.
7. Take In More Vitamin C
Although it won’t prevent you from getting sick, studies indicate that extra vitamin C may limit the severity or shorten the duration of illness. Vitamin C is best to receive through food such as citrus fruits, but supplements of 200 milligrams can be helpful, too.
8. Wash Your Hands
Soap and water can help remove viruses from your hands. One rule of thumb is to scrub vigorously for 20 seconds. Also keep hand sanitizer nearby to use if you can’t get to soap and water.
What You Should Do If You Get Sick
The flu typically lasts three to seven days in healthy people, but it can last longer in seniors because of their weaker immune systems.
Don’t hesitate to call the doctor if you get sick, even if you’re not 100% sure it’s the flu – they can help with the diagnosis. Here are steps to take after you think you’re sick:
- Drink extra fluids – The extra liquid can help thin out mucus, which makes it easier to get it out of your system.
- Get prescription medication – Visiting your doctor for antiviral drugs as soon as possible can make the flu milder and prevent serious complications that senior adults face, such as pneumonia.
- Rest or sleep at a 45-degree angle – Lying down flat causes mucus to gather in sinus cavities, which may lead to further infection. Resting or sleeping at an angle helps prevent this and reduces inflammation.
- Use a humidifier – Moist air helps soothe sore throats and hacking coughs.
Stay Healthy at Bel Aire Senior Living
At Bel Aire Senior Living, we take the health of seniors seriously. We look after our residents’ physical and mental health with special programs.
Reach out today to learn more about living at Bel Aire by visiting www.belairecare.com or call us at 801.763.0622