As we enjoy the crisp fall weather and shift into winter, it’s important to keep in mind what else the cold weather can bring: cold and flu season. While it may not seem like a major concern compared to the COVID-19 pandemic of the last few years, the flu is still an illness to be cautious of. Taking preventative measures can help to keep yourself and others safe and healthy.
Here are some things to keep in mind and steps you can take this flu season, especially if you or a loved one are an older adult in senior living.
The Dangers of the Flu for Seniors
The flu can be more dangerous for adults 65 and older because of the increased risk of developing more serious complications. Weakened immune systems in older adults can lead to other flu-related issues that may result in hospitalization. Adults over the age of 65 who contract the flu have an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, or pneumonia.
Because of these increased risks, it’s much more important for seniors and their loved ones to take every precaution to stay safe and healthy during flu season. This is even more essential for senior living residents, as the steps they take to keep themselves healthy will also help protect their neighbors and friends in the community!
How to Prepare for Flu Season
You probably know a lot of these preventative steps, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic. But it’s still helpful to keep them in mind because they can make a big difference in staying safe and healthy! Here are some steps to prepare for flu season, and keep yourself and others flu-free.
1. Get Vaccinated with the Annual Flu Shot
The best defense your body can have against the flu is the annual flu shot. This vaccine is developed every year based on that season’s flu strain, so you need to get a new shot every fall or winter to bolster your immune system. According to the CDC, the flu vaccine reduces the risk of contracting the flu by as much as 60%. The vaccine could be the difference between catching the flu and staying illness-free this fall! The best time to get the flu shot is early October, but late is better than never!
2. Take Care of Yourself
Self-care is one of the best things you can do to strengthen your immune system against all manner of illnesses, which is why we emphasize holistic wellness so much at St. Anthony’s! Some things you should do to take care of yourself include:
- Exercising regularly
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet
- Getting around 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night
- Staying hydrated
If the flu or any other illness sneaks in and tries to compromise your immune system, your body will be much more prepared to fight it off if you’ve been taking good care of yourself!
3. Wash Your Hands — and Avoid Touching Your Face
It’s pretty amazing the difference washing your hands can make for your overall health! Having a healthy routine of washing your hands can help you avoid catching illnesses from those around you, slowing the spread of germs significantly.
Follow these steps for a thorough hand-washing routine:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water.
- Apply soap and lather, scrubbing your palms, the back of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds—about as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” two times.
- Rinse your hands thoroughly with clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or by air drying.
Because the easiest places for germs to get into your body are your eyes, nose, and mouth, avoiding touching your face is a good way to avoid getting sick. It’s also better for your skin to keep the oils of your hands off of your face, so it’s crucial to practice keeping your hands away from your face intentionally!
What to Do If You Feel Under the Weather
If you’re feeling ill, even if you suspect it’s a common cold and not the flu, you should contact your doctor or other healthcare provider to let them know. They can advise you on proper treatment and help you decide based on your symptoms whether you should be seen by a medical professional or continue to self-treat.
To keep others safe, you should stay at home and isolate until you are feeling better. If this isn’t possible, consider wearing a mask and practicing social distancing while out in public so you don’t share your illness with others, along with practicing other hygiene like washing your hands frequently and not touching your face.
St. Anthony’s Cares For You
We love our residents dearly and do our best to keep them safe and healthy all year round, cold and flu season included! With all the amenities you need for proper self-care, spacious apartments you won’t mind cozying up in when under the weather, and medically trained staff always ready to help, we have everything you need to stay healthy and comfortable throughout flu season.
If you want to learn more about what life is like in a thriving senior living community like St. Anthony’s, contact us to schedule a tour!
The information provided on the site is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice. We advise all users to consult a medical professional or healthcare provider for medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment.