What if you could prevent a trip to the doctor this flu season for your aging parent or grandparent? October is the time of year when seniors are encouraged to get flu shots by the CDC. Your loved one’s immune system is not as strong as it once was. You can help aging relatives prevent from getting sick this flu season by helping them get flu shots.
Getting a flu vaccination and following a few simple flu prevention tips for seniors can help save lives, as people who are older are at a greater risk of getting serious complications from the flu. In fact, it’s estimated that people over the age of 65 account for between 71% to 85% of seasonal flu-related deaths. Flu prevention for seniors is serious business.
In the U.S., influenza activity peaks between December and March and can last until May, so you have time to get a head start! Now is the best time to get vaccinated and learn about flu prevention tips.
Here’s information on getting flu shots and additional tips for help your loved ones and yourself as a caregiver from getting sick:
1. Get Vaccinated for the Flu
Since seniors are at a higher risk of influenza infection, one the best preventative measures is to get a flu shot. There are several types of flu vaccines available, and two have been developed specifically for patients 65 and older:
- The Fluzone High-Dose Seasonal Influenza Vaccine provides a higher dose of antigen to give older patients a better immune response and protection against the flu. Studies have shown that those who receive the shot have 24% fewer influenza infections.
- The FLUAD™ Flu Vaccine with Adjuvant is designed to help create a stronger immune response to vaccination and is 63% more effective than a regular-dose non-adjuvanted flu shot.
If you are interested in these high-dose vaccines, ask your doctor which shot would be best for you. While most people receive their shots in October as is recommended, it is still possible to get your flu vaccine later on. If you haven’t received your vaccine yet, contact your physician. For those who are wondering “Where can I get a flu shot?”, check out vaccinefinder.org to find out where vaccines are available in your local area.
2. Make Efforts to Avoid Germs During Flu Season
Sharing is caring, but not during flu season. The easiest way to catch the flu is through contact. If a sick person sneezes or coughs, they send out a mist of virus-laden droplets into the air. You can also pick up influenza by touching a germy surface like a doorknob, table, desk, counter, faucet, and more. Worse still, flu germs can stick around on an object for up to 8 hours.
While it’s easy to say you should stay inside to avoid all contact with sick people, that’s not practical advice. To help prevent getting the flu when you’re out and about, you can practice good hygiene:
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water.
- Have an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you for when you can’t get to a sink.
- Carry disinfectant wipes to clean surfaces you’re about to touch.
- Try to avoid touching your mouth, eyes, and nose without washing your hands first.
3. Take Care of Yourself
To stay healthy and prevent the flu, your immune system needs to be ready to fight off germs. Taking care of yourself is one of the best ways to prevent the flu. While these tips may seem simple, taking the time to care for yourself is something people can overlook.
- Eat a balanced diet and stay hydrated. Remember, your plate should look like a rainbow. Brightly colored foods are always the best choice. Read more healthy eating tips for seniors.
- Get out and move it! Older adults without health conditions should be getting at least 150 minutes of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities 2 or more days a week according to the CDC. If you’re concerned about working out, ask your doctor how much activity is right for your needs. Even a little exercise is better than none at all.
- On average, you should be getting at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.
If you take the time to strengthen your body, you are increasing your ability to fight off an influenza attack.
If you do get sick, here’s how to prevent spreading the flu
Even the best-laid plans don’t always work out. If you do get sick this flu season, there are still some things you can do to help minimize the spread of germs and get well as soon as possible. Don’t wait. Take steps now to get flu shots to avoid getting sick.
- Ask your doctor about antiviral flu drugs to help you get better faster like oseltamivir (Tamiflu), peramivir (Rapivab), and zanamivir (Relenza). You need to take them within the first two days of getting sick, so don’t hesitate to make an appointment as soon as you start showing flu symptoms.
- Aside from going to the doctor, you should stay home until you feel better and your fever has gone down without the help of medicine. You should avoid crowded places like restaurants, churches, and stores for at least 24 hours.
- When coughing and sneezing, aim for your elbow, not your hands. That way, you can avoid spreading germs through contact.
- When you are done with your tissues, toss them. Don’t leave germy tissues lying around for someone else to pick up.
If the flu is an uninvited guest in your household this season, in home care can help. For family caregivers who are feeling under the weather and don’t want to get their older loved ones ill, in home caregivers can offer seniors a helping hand around the house while their family recuperates. For seniors who have the flu, in home caregivers can make sure they are getting enough rest, fluids, and are taking medicine at prescribed times.
If you’re looking for customized home care for a family member near Westchester, NY, we can help. Contact us to learn how our family can care for your family.