This winter was cold. Heck, Toronto set a new low temperature record about 10 days ago which smashed a nearly 57-year-old temperature record. Plus, extreme cold alerts were issued several times in the city as temperature hovered around -30 or lower with the wind chill factor. With cooler temperature, the flu season follows as well. Sure, flu season typically begins in early October but remember, it peaks mid-winter and only ends in March. Some may argue it’s too late to protect yourself from the flu. Nonsense. In fact, most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February. Yup, we are in the peak zone right now. Also, don’t be surprised if you catch the flu late in the season. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seniors are at a greater risk for contracting flu and are also at a higher risk of experiencing complications from the flu. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent colds and flu. Here are 5 useful tips seniors and their caregivers should keep in mind to avoid the flu.
Get the Flu Vaccine
Are flu shots 100% effective? No. But, flu shots will definitely decrease your chance of getting the flu. The recommended date to get a flu shot is by the end of October (Halloween) but it isn’t too late even if you get it after the recommended date. Vaccines received as late as January can still be effective and protect you from late-circulating flu viruses. However, remember that it will take your body 2 weeks to fully build appropriate antibodies. Hence, the earlier you receive your flu shot, more likely you can avoid the flu.
Wash Your Hands
Ask any infection control nurse at a nursing home or a long-term care setting, he or she will be excited to share the importance of washing your hands. They are right. Literature has backed it up. Make it a habit. Wash your hands every time you leave or return home, use the restroom or handle any food. Further, keep a small bottle of gel hand sanitizer on hand.In my work environment and it’s same throughout all the healthcare institutions across Ontario, we have to follow this 4 moments of hand hygiene.
Build Up Your Immune System
It might not seem like rocket science but sleep helps boost the immune system. Get plenty of sleep. Likewise, eating regular meals full of nutrient-dense foods (Fruits and vegetables…DUH) can also help to build your immune system to fight off the flu.
Seniors love their grandchildren. Unfortunately, kids love to touch everything they see that’s within their reach. This attracts more germs and those hugs and kisses can transmit germs to an older adult. Yup, kids spreading unwanted magic.
I work as a nurse and I have seen many elderly patients getting this shot every month. Heck, I have administered a couple of B12 shots to my patients. B12 shots can help strengthen seniors’ immune systems. It should definitely be up for consideration as a myriad of benefits have been observed from this shot.