Share this article on social media!
How to Prevent Seniors and Caregivers from Getting Sick this Cold and Flu Season is challenging. As the cold and flu season approaches, seniors and caregivers are more vulnerable to getting sick. Due to age, older adults tend to have a weaker immune system as do caregivers (from chronic stress). Since caregivers and seniors are together frequently it is easy for them to transfer germs back and forth. Although sometimes there is little you can do to reduce getting sick, there are many ways to boost your immune system. Here are 10 ways we found on http://dailycaring.com to avoid getting the cold and flu this season:
- Get the flu vaccine
Getting a flu shot reduces the risk of getting the flu. It also reduces the severity of the illness and protects against complications – both especially important for seniors.
And when you get a flu shot, you reduce the risk that you’ll get sick and infect your older adult.
The best time to get a flu shot is from October through November, but it’s still useful to get one even if it’s later in the flu season.
- Wash or sanitize hands thoroughly and often
Frequently washing hands with regular soap is an effective way to get rid of cold and flu germs.
Plain soap is fine because rubbing the hands together for at least 20 seconds is what eliminates germs – long enough to sing the Happy Birthday song twice. Make sure to clean under the nails, backs of hands, between fingers, and wrists.
If you can’t get to soap and water often enough, use hand sanitizer to kill cold and flu germs. This may be a good option for older adults who can’t easily get up to wash their hands.
- Exercise regularly
Moderate exercise boosts the immune system and could reduce risk of a cold by a third.
Even though caregiving doesn’t leave a lot of time for exercise and older adults may not have a lot of endurance, any amount of regular exercise will still benefit the body and immune system.
- Avoid touching the eyes, nose, and mouth
We often touch our faces without thinking, which is a common way for cold and flu germs to enter the body. To reduce the risk of getting sick, minimize touching of the face.
- Clean the environment to eliminate germs
Try to keep the environment as germ-free as possible. That means using disinfectant when cleaning, especially in the bathroom and kitchen. When cleaning, pay special attention to germ hot spots like doorknobs, light switches, and kitchen and bathroom counters.
And, make sure to disinfect cleaning sponges and rags (a breeding ground for germs) by changing them frequently, soaking in bleach, microwaving for 1 minute, or running through the dishwasher.
In an outside workplace, wash your hands after touching communal office spaces and regularly disinfect your own work area.
- Sanitize your mobile devices
Something that many people forget is how dirty and germ-filled their mobile device is. Clean it regularly with sanitizing wipes or rubbing alcohol – being careful not to wet the electronics.
- Stay away from people who are sick
It might sound obvious, but it’s worth repeating: keep your distance from people who are sick.
If you need to be around a sick person, limit your contact and avoid unnecessary touching like shaking hands or hugging.
- Avoid crowds and unnecessary travel
Try to avoid being in large groups of people, especially in poorly-ventilated spaces. That increases the chance of catching a cold or flu from an infected person.
- Drink plenty of liquids
Drinking plenty of liquids, especially plain water or hot tea, helps the nasal passages stay moist and trap germs before they can spread into the body.
- Get added Vitamin C and protein through nutritious foods
Some studies have shown that a little extra Vitamin C (but not too much) can reduce the risk of getting sick.
It’s best to get it through food, but a 200 mg supplement also works – but check with the doctor to be sure that supplement would be safe for your older adult.
Not getting enough protein can also lower the immune response, so try to add fish, eggs, or yogurt to you and your older adult’s diets.
We encourage you to use these tips this season. It’s important to keep our seniors healthy this flu season!