3 Simple Steps to Protect Mom or Dad During the Cold and Flu Season

Posted: 2/1/2019 8:00 AM by Interim HealthCare
Late fall and winter bring a change in weather and holidays, but they also bring the dreaded cold and flu season. While this can be a minor annoyance for many Americans, the cold and flu season can be deadly for seniors. Adults age 65 and over (along with very young children) are at a higher risk of complications from the flu, making protection especially critical. The CDC found that between 70 and 90% of seasonal flu-related deaths occur in seniors. 

The best way to keep your senior loved ones safe this winter is perhaps the most obvious -- stay away from sick people! Still, even following that simple rule may not prevent all illness from attacking your loved one. 

Following are three simple steps you can take to protect Mom or Dad (and yourself!) this cold and flu season:

1. Be sure to get a flu shot. 

Although the flu season starts as early as October, it’s not too late to get your shot! Ideally, patients receive their flu shots early in the season to maximize protection, but even when the season has progressed, vaccination can protect your senior loved one from potentially deadly complications. 

The CDC also recommends adults age 50 and over get the shingles vaccine, and adults ages 65 and over (or younger with certain health issues) get the pneumococcal vaccine to protect against infections of the lung and bloodstream. There are also specific vaccine recommendations from the CDC based on whether or not your loved one suffers from a range of chronic health conditions, including heart disease, type 1 or 2 diabetes and more. Although many vaccines are available at your local drugstore, aside from the flu vaccine it’s important that you, Mom or Dad discuss all vaccination options with a doctor.

2. Wash or sanitize often.

Although some viruses are airborne, most viruses are transmitted by touching a contaminated object, then touching your face. That means hand washing is the most critical preventative step seniors and caregivers can take to prevent illness.  

Special soap is not required -- simply lather up under running water and scrub your hands for 20 seconds. Need help ensuring your loved one scrubs enough? Try singing Happy Birthday twice, and that should hit the 20-second mark. 

Many people forget that our entire hands can contain germs. Encourage Mom or Dad to scrub every part of the hand, including between fingers and the back as well as the front to ensure germs are washed down the drain. 

Soap and water are the best choice for hand washing; however, when they aren’t available, an alcohol-based sanitizer can serve as a solid stand-in. The CDC recommends using hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol to kill germs when soap and water are unavailable. 

3. Follow a healthy diet.

In many ways, our bodies are built to protect us from cold, flu and other viruses. In order to help our bodies build up their natural protection; however, we have to give them the right fuel. This is especially true for seniors, who may be suffering from chronic ailments that lower their immune resistance to viral infection. 

In particular, vitamin C has been shown to boost immune function in adults. It’s best to absorb vitamin C through an abundance of fruits and vegetables, although supplementation may be necessary if dietary restrictions make it difficult to get an adequate amount of vitamin C naturally. Before adding any vitamins or supplements to your senior loved one’s diet, be sure to consult with a doctor.

Keep Mom or Dad (and yourself!) healthy throughout the year.

Senior home care services can help keep your loved one’s home clean and sanitary, and if illness does strike, can provide the care needed to restore Mom or Dad to health. Simultaneously, senior home care services can alleviate some of the stress- and time-burden that befalls so many caregivers.

Let Interim HealthCare help you provide the best possible care for your loved one. With locations across the U.S., there is a local Interim HealthCare near you. Visit our website to find your neighborhood Interim HealthCare franchise.