5 Ways to Prevent Colds & the Flu in Older Adults
The wintertime is a potentially dangerous time for the elderly because viruses and influenza circulate easily. Sadly, seniors and their caregivers are two groups of people that are most at risk of falling ill; they spend so much time together that they pass germs back and forth. Plus, caregivers tend to have a lower immune system due to stress and a lack of sleep.
As the body ages, the immune system isn’t able to fight off infection as easily as it once did, leading to prolonged colds and flu. Did you know that most doctors don’t order a flu test because they can make a diagnosis based on a patient's symptoms? For older adults and the elderly, flu symptoms can be atypical. Additionally, not all cases of the flu come with a fever. By not giving flu tests to people with atypical symptoms can be very dangerous.
Knowing this, there are ways to reduce the length and severity of illness. We’ll be sharing with you 5-ways to prevent illness and ease the symptoms.
You might be thinking that the flu shot isn’t worth its weight. By getting a flu shot, you’re, A) reducing the severity of the flu, and it protects against complications that might come with the flu. And B), by getting a flu shot, you’re reducing the risk of getting other people sick and vice-versa.
If you plan on getting the shot, it’s best to do it in October and November right before flu season hits, but anytime is a good time for a flu shot!
In addition to the flu shot, get vaccinated against pneumonia. Pneumonia can be fatal, especially in seniors. Pneumococcal bacteria forms during the recovery from a cold or flu; the illness can sneak up on a person right when they’re beginning to feel better. It’s suggested that you should get the vaccine starting at 65-years old. There are two vaccines that’ll protect against a few strains of pneumonia. The first one is, PCV13 (Prevnar) is about 75 percent effective at preventing severe infections, and the second is PPSV23 (Pneumovax) is 50 to 85 percent effective against the disease.
You’re never too old to wash your hands and maintain proper hygiene. By frequently washing and sanitizing hands, you’re protecting yourself from a large swath of cold and flu germs. When washing hands, make sure to get under fingernails and on the back of hands. If you have limited mobility and getting up frequently to wash hands is too much, having a bottle of hand sanitizer is just as good. Also, avoid touching the eyes, nose, and mouth. That can be hard to do because we often touch our faces without thinking. But the hands carry a plethora of germs, by touching the face, you’re giving cold and flu germs easy access to the body.
By exercising regularly and eating well is a great way to boost the immune system, can cut the chances of getting a cold by a third. For those who don’t have a lot of endurance, any amount of exercise is good. If you have a caregiver, try doing exercises with the help of a caregiver. In addition to staying active, make sure to stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of liquids, like water and hot tea, helps the nasal passage stay moist and trap germs. Plus, drinking plenty of water helps to flush toxins out of the body.
While this might sound obvious, staying away from sick people is key, especially for older adults since the immune system is not as strong. It might be hard to stay away from sick family members, like grandkids. If you do get sick and are around people, make sure to sneeze/cough into your elbow or tissue to avoid spreading the flu/ common cold. This can also mean staying away from crowds and avoiding travel where germs are prevalent due to poorly ventilated spaces.If you or loved one starts to notice signs that you’re slipping or having a harder time taking care of yourself, Oasis Senior Advisors offers resources for seniors and families. As well as support and guidance every step of the way so you can feel confident in your loved-ones’ future. Deciding to make a move to a long-term care community is an emotional, financial, and physically taxing process, and you don't have to do it alone