Stay Healthy During Flu Season: 5 Tips for Seniors

Autumn is here. Creepy skeletons, costumes, and candy corn fill store aisles. You can buy pumpkin spice anything.

But with all the wonders of fall, there’s something even scarier than Halloween in the air: the flu.

Flu Season: Unpredictable at Best

Last year’s flu season started earlier and peaked later than it has in the past. Flu season typically begins in early October, peaks mid-winter, and ends in March.
The 2015-2016 flu season started in September and didn’t peak until March. This left many people who skipped flu vaccines and thought they were in the clear unpleasantly surprised when they caught the flu in late in the season. 
Seniors are especially at risk of complications that may arise from the flu, including pneumonia.

Fortunately, health-savvy seniors can take several steps to protect themselves.
5 Ways to Shoo the Flu this Winter

1. Get the Flu Vaccine

Because it can take up to two weeks for the body to develop full immunity, the CDC recommends getting the flu vaccine early in the season.

Did you know? Even if this year’s vaccine is not a perfect match against the flu, it can still protect against it.

2. Wash Your Hands Often

Doctors call good hand hygiene “the next best thing” after the flu vaccine to prevent the flu. Wash your hands several times a day with soap and warm water. Do like the pre-schoolers do and sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice, making sure to scrub both sides of your hands and between your fingers.

Germs can live on surfaces such as doorknobs, handrails, and countertops for up to two hours, so wash your hands after touching any surface that wasn’t just cleaned.

Can’t get to a sink? Carry alcohol-based hand sanitizer everywhere you go.

3. Keep Your Hands Away from Your Face

Touching your eyes, nose, and mouth can spread germs into your respiratory system and mucus membranes, where they are more likely to cause illness. Make it a habit to not touch your face—if you have an itch, use a tissue or wash your hands before scratching.

4. Avoid Crowded Public Places

If you want to avoid germs, it makes sense to avoid places where germs gather. That is, locations with lots of people crowded into close quarters.

That doesn’t mean you should skip movie night at the senior living complex. In fact, gathering for a social outing can help reduce stress. And if it’s a comedy, you could actually boost your immunity with laughter.

Just carry hand sanitizer and avoid close contact with people. Again, avoid touching surfaces that have had lots of other hands on them, such as doorknobs and countertops.

5. Increase Your Immunity with Vitamin C

Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, has been shown to boost immunity and reduce cold and flu symptoms by 85 percent. A healthy immune system can also help fight the flu virus before it attacks. Elderberry extract is another proven antiviral supplement.  Talk with your family doctor to learn more.

Stay Healthy this Season

Find even more tips to stay healthy this season on the Five Star Senior Living blog. And if you find you are struggling with household chores and keeping your home germ-free, you may want to consider a move to a Five Star community. Our caregivers can provide as much--- or as much little--- assistance as a senior needs to continue to live independently.