Ways to Combat the Flu Season

By November 14, 2014Healthy Aging

It is widely known that individuals aged 65 and older are at a much higher risk of severe complications due to the influenza virus than any other age group. It has been estimated that about 90% of flu related deaths are among this age range. Between 50% and 60% of hospital stays due to flu complications occur within the senior group in the United States. As individuals age, their immune system begins to weaken making influenza a very serious threat. There are several steps that seniors and caregivers can take to combat the flu season. Anyone who presents with flu like symptoms should immediately consult a health professional.

Influenza Vaccines
Once the immune system begins to weaken individuals become extremely vulnerable to the flu virus. It is crucial to ensure those aged 65 or older receive their flu vaccines. There are currently two options for this. One vaccine is a normal dose and the other is considered a high does flu vaccine. It is important to consult a medical professional when deciding which is best. Most communities have flu vaccines available around the month of October. The best bet is to get it as soon as possible.

Practice proper Hygiene
Everyone should practice proper hygiene including not only the elderly, but caregivers and little ones as well. This is one of the single most effective ways to combat the flu season.

  • It is extremely important to keep hands cleansed. This may be done with soap and warm water. Wash the hands for at least 20 to 30 seconds before rinsing. Be sure to dry with a clean cloth afterwards. If there is no soap and/or water present, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover the nose and mouth every time a cough or sneeze threatens, if possible. Cleanse or sanitize hands immediately after each and every sneeze or cough.
  • Try to make a conscious habit of not touching any of the orifices of the face. This include the eyes.
  • Try to keep counter tops and surfaces in all rooms clan sanitized, especially if anyone present is sick.
  • Wash clothes including towels and wash cloths on a regular basis. It is a good idea to wash bathing items and clothes used by sick individuals immediately after use.
  • A couple of other good health habits are try not to be in close proximity to individuals who are known to be sick and all individuals who are sick should stay at home.
  • Try to avoid allowing sick persons to visit until they are well to prevent the flu from spreading. Small children often are not old enough to be completely conscious of all good hygiene habits and may spread the virus unintentionally.

Important Note
Do not get the influenza virus confused with the avian flu virus. Avian flu is widely publicized; however, it is very rare for a human to contract this disease. Humans must come into direct contact with contaminated surfaces or infected poultry to contract it. There are no vaccines available for the avian flu, but they are currently being developed.

It is extremely rare for humans to contract the H1N1 swine flu as well. In many cases, even when humans are exposed to infected hogs, they still do not contract the H1N1 virus. There is an H1N1 swine flu vaccine available; however, many medical professionals believe it is unnecessary as it is very rare for humans to contract it.

Image Credit – http://prepperchimp.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/elderly-winter-1508x706_c.jpg

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