Keeping a Senior Healthy during Cold and Flu Season

  • September 12, 2019

It’s that time again. The season when the influenza virus slowly begins to make the rounds. While many people consider it to be more annoying than dangerous, that’s really not true. Seniors are at an especially high risk for serious complications related to the virus.

Over the course of a typical flu season, seniors make up nearly 85 percent of flu-related deaths and almost 70 percent of hospitalizations caused by flu. These numbers are the reason physicians take the flu very seriously with older patients. Receiving an annual flu shot is the first step to prevention, but there are other precautions that can protect older adults, too.

5 Steps Older Adults Can Take to Avoid the Flu Virus 

In addition to getting the flu shot, here are other preventative measures seniors can take:

1. Eat a well-balanced diet.

When your immune system is healthy, it is better prepared to fight off viruses and infections. A well-balanced diet, rich with fruits, vegetables, and lean protein can keep your immune system pumped up and ready to fight.

2. Get your rest.

Another necessity when it comes to maintaining a healthy immune system is getting good quality sleep. When you are fatigued, your immune system is less able to defend against viruses. This can increase the likelihood of developing the flu. Try to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.

3. Practice good hygiene.

Fighting off the flu also relies on developing and sticking to good personal-hygiene practices, especially if you spend time in public places. Because the influenza virus can linger on doorknobs, handrails, and faucets, wash your hands often. Hot, soapy water is best. For times you won’t have access to soap and warm water, however, keep a small bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you.

4. Limit personal contact.

Another way the flu virus is transmitted is by personal contact. Handshakes and hugs might seem friendly, but they can be dangerous during flu season. Because people don’t always know they are coming down with the flu, it’s tough to tell who is healthy and who isn’t. If you hug or shake hands with someone who is carrying the virus, it can easily be passed from them to you. Stick with a fist bump or friendly smile instead.

5. Don’t touch your face.

Most people aren’t aware just how many times a day they scratch their nose, rub their eyes, or touch their mouth. If you’ve been exposed to the influenza virus and have it on your hands, touching your face increases the risk of getting bitten by the bug. During flu season, make a conscious effort not to touch your face.

If you do feel yourself coming down with a case of the flu, call your doctor immediately. There are antiviral prescription medications that can be taken to lessen the severity of flu symptoms and shorten the length of time you are sick. The catch is these drugs must be administered when the first signs of the flu appear.

Healthy Living is Easier at Five Star

At Five Star Senior Living communities, healthy living is easier. From chef-inspired meals to a variety wellness programs, it’s an environment designed to nurture the body, mind, and spirit. Call the Five Star Senior Living community nearest you to learn more!


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