Flu season comes around every year, and it’s important for everyone to know how to minimize their risk of getting sick. People 65 and older are at a higher risk of developing serious illness and complications from the flu, because their immune systems can weaken with age. So it’s especially important for seniors to protect themselves from the virus by practicing flu prevention.
Symptoms of the flu can include coughing or sneezing, a sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, fever, headache and body aches. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor. There are treatments available that can lessen symptoms of the flu.
Fortunately, doctors and scientists know a lot about the flu, and there are some easy steps seniors can take to protect themselves.
Here are 5 steps you can take for flu prevention:
1. Get Vaccinated!
There’s simply no better protection against the flu than getting your annual flu shot. Each year, scientists decide which flu viruses are most likely to be circulating, and the flu vaccine is custom-made for that year.
Flu season runs from about October through April and it’s important to time your flu shot accordingly. Because older adults may have weakened immune systems, they should schedule their flu shot for September or October. Any earlier in the year, and immunity might lessen before flu season arrives.
2. Wash and Sanitize
If there’s anything the COVID-19 pandemic taught us, it’s “wash your hands!” Wash them thoroughly and often. You can avoid contact with flu viruses if you keep your hands clean, avoid touching surfaces unnecessarily, and try not to touch your face.
It’s also important to sanitize any surfaces or objects you might come in contact with. Use disinfectant to kill flu viruses on kitchen and bathroom surfaces, door knobs and work spaces. And don’t forget about disinfecting your mobile phone, tablet, computer keyboard and TV remote control.
3. Avoid Sick People
Everyone knows they should avoid people who are exhibiting symptoms of the flu, and that’s because it’s so important for your safety. If you’re required to be near someone who’s sick, stay back as far as you can, avoid touching surfaces, shaking hands or hugging, and wash your hands often.
During flu season, avoid crowds when you can, and unnecessary travel. Flu viruses are very contagious, and being in close proximity to a lot of people increases your chances of coming into contact with those viruses.
4. Eat Right
It’s commonly known that adding some vitamin C to your diet can boost your immune system. Talk with your doctor about exactly how much vitamin C is healthy for you.
A great way to get plenty of vitamins and minerals is to eat a healthy diet, including lots of vegetables and fruit. You should also make sure you’re getting enough protein with a healthy amount of eggs, fish, lean meat or yogurt. Good eating habits are one of the easiest ways to practice flu prevention.
Drink plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated keeps your body functioning properly, and your immune system strong. You should get most of your fluids by drinking water, but you can also enjoy your favorite tea or some juice.
Getting enough exercise is a critical component of anyone’s health goals, and this includes flu prevention. Even if you don’t have a lot of free time, or if you have physical limitations, any amount of exercise will benefit your immune system and overall health.
Talk with your doctor about the exercise that’s right for you and the amount of effort you should exert. Even a nice walk in the fresh air every day can do wonders for your health, your immune system, and your outlook on life!
Heritage Senior Living communities focus on whole-person wellness, from independent living to all levels of senior care. Contact us to find out more.