As fall returns, one unwelcome visitor often arrives with it: the influenza virus. Though the flu may seem to be more of an annoyance than a serious health risk, that isn’t the case for older adults. In fact, seniors make up as much as 85 percent of influenza-related deaths and up to 70 percent of hospitalizations.
Having an annual flu vaccine is considered to be the gold standard for virus prevention. While it is one of the best measures you can take to avoid being bitten by the bug, it’s not the only one. Lifestyle can also play an essential role in staying safe and healthy during peak flu months.
4 Prevention Steps to Help Seniors Avoid the Flu
- Limit personal contact: While this may be tough to do, especially during the holidays, limiting personal contact is crucial. The influenza virus is easily passed on. It can be transmitted by a handshake, a quick kiss on the cheek, or just by being in close proximity to someone who is sick. In some cases, the infected person might not yet realize they have the flu. Limiting the amount of personal contact you have will lower your risk of developing influenza.
- Practice good handwashing hygiene: Washing your hands frequently, especially when you’ve been in public places, is a good habit any time of year. During flu season, it is vital. The flu virus can live for several hours on doorknobs, phones, handrails, shopping carts, and more. Make a habit of washing your hands with hot, soapy water throughout the day. For times you won’t have access to hot water and soap, keep a small bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer in your pocket, purse, or vehicle.
- Avoid touching your face: Most of us don’t realize just how many times a day we touch our face. It might be to scratch an itchy nose, rub tired eyes, or push the hair off your face. If you’ve come in contact with the influenza virus and have it on your hands, touching your face increases your risk of becoming ill.
- Practice healthy self-care: Keeping your immune system healthy is another step you can take to beat the odds of catching the flu. Eat a well-balanced diet. Exercise most days of the week for at least thirty minutes. Get a good night’s rest. Drinking water and eating foods with high water content will allow you to stay well hydrated.
Antiviral Drugs May Help Shorten Symptoms
There are prescription antiviral drugs that can lessen the severity of flu symptoms and shorten the length of time you are sick. The catch is that these medications must be taken in the earliest stages of the flu.
During flu season, it’s important to stay on guard for the first symptoms of the flu and call your primary care doctor immediately. They can intervene early, before the virus progresses.
Living Well at Every Age
At Clearwater Living, we know that healthy aging comes from purposeful connections with others, shared experiences, and community involvement. Through our Empowered Living lifestyle philosophy, we create an environment that nurtures each of the Six Dimensions of Living Well.
We extend an open invitation to you to visit us and learn more. Call the community nearest you today to schedule a time!