The holidays are over, but the winter weather is here to stay for at least a couple more months. Wintertime, with its cold temperatures, icy conditions, and fewer hours of daylight, can be a tricky time of year for the senior population. Seniors are more prone to falls, hypothermia, and frostbite, as well as the winter blues. But, one of the most severe winter ailments is the seasonal flu, which is highly contagious and tends to peak in January and February. Seniors are more susceptible to the flu due to their weakening immune systems and are also more likely to experience complications from it.
Keep your loved one healthy and flu-free this winter season with these simple tips:
According to the CDC, everyone over the age of six months old should get a yearly flu shot. Vaccination is especially important for seniors over the age of 65 because they are at a higher risk of developing flu complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections, and ear infections. Therefore, geriatric physicians recommend seniors go a step further and consider the high dose flu vaccine, which contains four times the amount of flu antigen as the regular shot. Those adults 65 and older who got the high-dose injection had 24% fewer disease outbreaks than those who took the regular dose.
Wash Your Hands.
Though it may sound like common sense, reminding seniors (especially those struggling with forgetfulness or dementia) to wash their hands is essential because of its effectiveness. A minimum of twenty seconds of hand rubbing with soap is required to eliminate germs. It may also be a good idea to keep hand sanitizer available for seniors with limited mobility.
The return of cold and flu season makes it especially important for seniors to keep their immune system strong with healthy eating. Seniors struggling to cook nutritious meals for themselves may want to look into a community resource like Meals on Wheels. Otherwise, one-pot meals like soups and stews made with lots of veggies and low-sodium broth are simple to make and freeze. Also, limit caffeine and alcohol, since both inhibit the body’s ability to retain heat.
Getting regular exercise is always important but especially during flu season. Exercising, among its many benefits, improves the function of the white blood cells, which fight infection, and improves the immune system. Thirty minutes of moderate daily exercise should do the trick.
Bathrooms and kitchens are breeding grounds for germs. One of the easiest ways to fight the flu is to regularly clean these areas of the home with disinfectant. Pay special attention to areas that may be touched frequently, including doorknobs, light switches, toilets, and counters. It may be a good idea to keep cleaning wipes handy for daily use and in between deep cleans.
Stay healthy this winter; spring will be here before we know it!
Making the transition from care receiver to caregiver comes with a natural learning curve. Our Caregiver Tips and Tools Guide is packed with what you need to know to navigate this journey every step of the way. Know how to create an ideal environment for your loved one, and where you can turn when it’s time to get additional help. Download your copy today →