With flu season just around the corner, it is always important to provide a refresher course of tips to hopefully prevent getting it. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “it is estimated that between 80 percent and 90 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older and between 50 percent and 70 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among people in that age group.”
Actions to Prevent the Flu
For Florida seniors, especially those living in independent living communities, it is recommended that the following actions be taken to prevent getting flu.
Wash Your Hands
This cannot be stressed enough. There is nothing better than good old soap and water to keep the flu from attacking your system or even spreading (hand sanitizer works in a pinch). With all of the door knobs, hand rails, and other fixtures you touch every day, it is understandable that the flu virus travels so quickly. And, yes, it may be a little inconvenient to wash your hands over and over again but it works wonders. Think back to a time when you had small children and washed your hands repeatedly just because that is what you did. As parents, you rarely got sick.
Avoid Shaking Hands with People
When you meet someone or see an old friend, the first thing you do is shake hands or hug. But during flu season, avoid shaking hands with people when possible. It is not worth the risk to shake hands with someone since you have no idea if that person has been around someone who was sick or is carrying the flu virus with them. But, if you do shake hands, be sure to wash your hands immediately or coat your hands in hand sanitizer.
Keep Your Hands Away from Your Face
This is the primary way people come down with the flu. When you have been out and unknowingly touched different surfaces, keep your hands away from your face, at least until you wash your hands.
Use Your Elbows
Instead of your hands, use your elbows whenever possible. For instance, as a child you were taught to cover your mouth when you cough. But if you think about it, coughing into your hand is just as bad as coughing into the air. Instead cough into your elbow. You do not shake hands with your elbow so you have less chance of spreading any sort of virus. Additionally, if you are in a public restroom, after you wash your hands, use your elbow to push open the door like surgeons do in an operating room.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
Another effective way to prevent the flu is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eat a healthy diet full of nutrients and vitamins that keep your body strong. And, be sure to get enough sleep. Sleep is another way to prevent the flu because your body has the energy to keep you healthy.
Get a Flu Shot
Flu shots are a combination of the most common flu viruses that scientists expect to hit. Every year, we hear news reports that the flu shot is somewhat effective. But something is better than nothing especially for Florida seniors. Be sure to get a flu shot which is available at your doctor’s office, urgent care centers and many pharmacies and other stores.
Head to the Doctor
The minute you show any symptoms of the flu (fever, head and body aches, sore throat, extreme lethargy), head to your doctor for confirmation and medicine to treat it. With seniors, the flu has the potential to become so much worse so treatment is imperative.
Stay Away from People When You are Sick
It sounds obvious but stay away from people when you are sick especially living in an independent living community. The flu spreads like wildfire and can bring groups of people to their knees in one fail swoop. When you are sick you need to stay in your own quarters and rest. If you live in an assisted living facility, you can typically arrange for meals to be brought to you until you are over the hump and not contagious.
Take the Necessary Steps
The flu is something no one wants to get but when you really young or on the older end of the age spectrum, you are especially susceptible to it getting worse. So take the necessary steps to do as much as you can to prevent it.
Discovery Village at Palm Beach Gardens offers a variety of senior living programs to keep seniors healthy and active. Learn about our senior living options and amenities today when you contact us at 561.220.0078.