Flu season is upon us once again. That means caregivers and their senior loved ones need to start taking extra precautions. Though it’s possible to catch the flu any time of the year, fall and winter are typically peak seasons. Fortunately, you don’t have to leave this to chance if you’re the family caregiver of an older loved one. There are steps you can take to lower your risk and your loved ones.
The Flu and Your Senior Loved One
As you probably already know, persons over the age of 65 are much more likely to develop dangerous complications from the flu because of weakened immune systems. These complications are sometimes life-threatening. They range from sinus infections and pneumonia to swelling of the heart and organ failure.
That’s why we’ve compiled this list of flu prevention basics. These can provide caregivers with the knowledge they need to protect themselves and the older people in their lives from this dangerous virus.
Flu Prevention Basics for Caregivers and Their Senior Loved Ones
A little good luck never hurts, but there are many tangible things you can do to prevent the flu. Here are five of the most important steps caregivers can take for flu prevention:
- Get a Flu Shot. A flu shot is your first and best line of defense. The influenza vaccine has proven to be the most effective tool for flu prevention. Both caregivers and their senior loved ones should receive a yearly flu shot, preferably in the early part of the season. Other family members should be vaccinated as well.
- Build Up the Immune System. Increasing the strength of your older loved one’s immune system is also very beneficial. The best ways to accomplish this are to ensure they get plenty of sleep, eat a nutritionally balanced diet, and avoid stress as much as possible. It may be necessary to strengthen the immune system through the use of vitamins and supplements. Ask your senior’s doctor or other healthcare professionals for more information.
- Wash Your Hands Regularly. Frequent and proper hand washing is also crucial to flu prevention, especially when you’ve been out in public. Learning more about proper hand washing hygiene is important for seniors and for caregivers.
- Use Sanitizing Gel. Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizing gel to use when you are unable to wash your hands.
- Avoid Touching Your Face. Advise your older loved one to avoid touching their eyes, mouth, and nose as much as possible. That way, even if they’re exposed to the flu virus, their chances of actually contracting it will be reduced.
Caregivers Matter Too
We can’t emphasize enough how important it is for caregivers to tend to their own needs as well as to those of their older loved ones. This is especially true during flu season.
Remember, you’re important too — both as the main caregiver of your senior family member and as your own independent person. There’s nothing to be gained by compromising your health or overall well-being, so take the same steps to protect yourself from flu exposure that you take with your family.
Five Star Senior Living Can Help
If the need for an assisted living community or for respite care arises, we can help! Call us to schedule a tour of one of our communities at your convenience.