When the air becomes crisper and the leaves change colors, the cold winter weather is near. Gone are the warm, sunny days of summer, which also unfortunately means that the annual flu season is approaching, too. One way people prepare and protect themselves from the flu is by getting their yearly vaccine. But the preventive measures should not stop there, especially for your elderly loved ones.
Seniors have weaker immune systems because immune responses change as people get older. Elderly individuals’ bodies will produce less antibodies, which makes it tougher for them to fight off influenza and other illnesses. Knowing this, it is imperative that your elderly relatives do what they can to protect themselves from the flu this season.
1. Get a Flu Shot
The ideal time to get a flu vaccine is in October or early November because it typically takes two weeks for influenza antibodies to develop and protect people. It is better to get the shot late than to never get it at all. Per recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), seniors should either get the Fluzone or Fluad flu shot. These types of flu shots tend to have milder side effects compared to standard vaccines, but they are still effective at preventing the flu.
Seniors are not the only ones who should be getting flu vaccines, though. Their caregivers, family members, and friends should get vaccinated as well. Vaccinations are not a guarantee that an individual will not get the flu. However, if the people who spend time with elderly individuals are also protected from the virus, there is an even lesser chance for seniors to become sick with the flu.
2. Practice Good Hygiene
During the flu season, it is important to practice good hygiene. As aforementioned, flu shots do not provide absolute immunity because they are not always 100 percent successful. Even if they were, you still want to limit the spread of germs. People who get the flu shot may have a lesser risk of getting the flu, but the common cold and other sicknesses are still of concern.
Knowing this, practice good hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating. Use your arm to cover coughs and sneezes and wash your hands afterwards. If you cannot wash your hands, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is a good alternative. Washing your hands, however, is always preferred.
Regularly clean and disinfect high-touch objects and surfaces as well. Because of the frequent contact these surfaces experience, germs may accumulate, making it easy to spread from person to person.
3. Minimize Direct Contact
Illnesses often spread through direct contact, whether with an infected individual or contaminated surface. Seniors can lessen their potential for contracting the flu by limiting direct contact with things and people. If you have been exposed to the flu, the virus can be transferred from your hands to your face. This is why you need to refrain from touching your face, particularly your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Avoid coming into personal contact with others as well, including limiting hugs, kisses, and even handshakes. While people may want to show affection to friends and loved ones, it is in everyone’s best interest to put such actions on hold. There are alternative ways to greet others that do not spread germs.
4. Eat Well
Getting proper nutrients is essential for a good immune system. Healthy foods can provide additional protection against the flu and other illnesses, so it is especially important that seniors eat well during flu season. Caregivers and loved ones who provide home care for their elderly loved ones should make note of this and focus on providing seniors with lean protein, leafy greens, and fruits high in vitamin C.
5. Get a Good Night’s Rest
Everyone needs their rest, and there is good reason for that. Sleep can also play an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system. So not only do elderly individuals need to get a good night’s rest regularly, but caregivers do as well. If caregivers are not feeling well, then they cannot provide seniors with the care and assistance they need to remain safe and healthy.
Professional Elderly Care Services from Assisting Hands
If seniors do not have the care and assistance they need, then it can be tough for them to be protected from the flu and other illnesses this season. They may not have the transportation needed to go out and get a flu vaccine or the ability to prepare healthy, nutritious meals for themselves. But with help from the elderly home care services at Assisting Hands, that will not be a problem.
Assisting Hands Home Care offers numerous elderly care services to seniors in need in Elmhurst, Lombard, Villa Park, Itasca, IL, and the neighboring areas. Within our home care services, our professional caregivers can assist with personal care, restroom use, meal preparation, light housekeeping, and transportation. We even have more specialized services, such as after surgery care, in-home dementia care for seniors who need specific care.
With elderly home care help from Assisting Hands, your elderly loved ones will have the help they need to be protected from the flu. Call Assisting Hands Home Care at (630) 313-6160 for more information about our home care services.