Once it rolls around each year, the cold and flu season can be notably hard on those aged 65+. Most seniors run a higher risk of serious complications from the flu, common cold, or pneumonia because their natural immunity tends to weaken with age. Sadly, older adults account for over half of all flu-related hospitalizations and most flu-associated deaths. Although it’s difficult to completely avoid colds and flu at any age, improving your odds of not getting sick is possible by taking these preventative steps.  

5 Ways to Stay Healthier This Season

Following these cold and flu prevention tips could keep you feeling healthier all season long:

Exercise regularly

According to MedlinePlus, moderate exercise boosts the immune system, which can help lower your risk of getting or staying sick. Regular physical activity may even flush harmful bacteria out of your lungs and airways. Once cleared by your doctor, try sticking to a workout regimen of 20 to 30 minutes five days a week.

Drink plenty of liquids

Whether you drink more hot tea, fruit juice, or bottled water, staying hydrated can help your body fight germs. Conversely, you should avoid heavily caffeinated drinks because they could cause you to lose hydration.

According to the experts, adequate hydration equals about 2.7 liters for women daily and 3.7 liters for men. Roughly 20% of that amount should come from healthy foods, for instance, Vitamin C-enriched citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits.

Avoid crowds

Crowded airplanes and social venues can increase your likelihood of catching a cold or flu from an infected individual. Try to avoid large groups of people, especially in poorly ventilated spaces. If you find yourself in a confined area, wear a mask and social distance. When you feel sick, stay home to protect others.

Get a flu shot

Since older adults are highly vulnerable to flu complications, the CDC recommends an annual influenza vaccination. Before getting yours, check with your doctor or pharmacist to ensure you don’t have any health issues that could be aggravated by the vaccine. Flu can also develop into pneumonia, which can be deadly for seniors. Ask your doctor if a pneumococcal vaccine is right for you.

Wash your hands frequently

Washing your hands with soap and water is one of the easiest ways to prevent the spread of germs. Use lukewarm water that won’t burn your skin, and always scrub vigorously for 20 seconds. Also, keep an alcohol-based (at least 70%) hand sanitizer nearby for instances when soap and water aren’t available.

Beware of these Cold and Flu Symptoms

Once exposed to the cold or flu, be mindful of symptoms that could indicate you’re infected. It is advisable to get medical care right away once you become sick.

Here are some telltale signs you need to seek medical attention:

  • Body aches and headache
  • Chills and fatigue
  • Fever or cough that improves but then returns or worsens
  • Not urinating enough or at all
  • Persistent dizziness, confusion, or inability to wake
  • Seizures
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Severe weakness or unsteadiness
  • Worsening of chronic medical conditions

While the flu typically lasts three to seven days in healthy individuals, it can take older adults longer to heal due to their weaker immune systems.

Bottom line: Even if you’re unsure whether it’s the flu, don’t hesitate to call the doctor if you get sick so they can make a diagnosis.

In-Home Eldercare Services in Charlotte County

Keeping aging loved ones healthy can be challenging when you’re busy or live far away. Another proven way to create a safer home environment is by hiring a professional in-home caregiver to assist them. Put your mind at ease by contacting the caring professionals from Home Instead® Senior Care. Conveniently available in Naples, Fort Myers, and Charlotte County, FL, our senior care services help to enhance the aging experience by providing practical support at home delivered with compassion.

Our reliable in-home solutions help aging adults stay engaged in everyday life with tailor-made support to stay safe and well at home. At Home Instead, it is always our mission to provide a care plan personalized to your family’s needs – bringing you all comfort, companionship, and peace of mind. To learn more or schedule a time to talk with one of our home care specialists, please visit us at www.homeinsteadswfl.com.