Most people know that cold and flu “season” has almost nothing to do with the weather outside, but rather relates to the way we react to it. As the temperature drops, we congregate together indoors and germs are spread much more rapidly. Moreover, our activity levels tend to drop in the fall and winter, leaving us a little more vulnerable to sickness. And many times, that little extra edge is the difference between sickness and health.
These late fall/winter months are especially hard on vulnerable people, including the elderly. Not only are they more susceptible to illness, the illness is usually much worse when it becomes entrenched, and serious complications often follow. So, it’s important to help them remain independent to the greatest extent possible, to decrease the chance of contracting illness. In fact, the best overall approach is to prevent these events from occurring in the first place, and that’s actually rather easy to do.
The Flu Shot
Flu vaccines have stirred considerable controversy in recent years, with some doctors insisting that they are the best thing since sliced bread and others insisting that they are essentially a waste of money. The arguments on both sides are quite convincing, which essentially means that to vaccinate or not to vaccinate is basically a personal choice.
However, most everyone suggests that people over 50 should get flu shots unless they are allergic to eggs or to any other medical ingredient in the vaccine. Furthermore, any elderly people who regularly have contact with small children or grandchildren should do likewise.
Wash your hands a lot, using soap and water, for about twenty seconds, which is the amount of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. If water is unavailable, use alcohol hand sanitizer. There are lots of very small bottles available that fit easily into a purse or pocket. It’s not the temperature of the water that matters, but the act of scrubbing your hands.
Simple, preventative steps like this one are the best way to stay healthy during this time of year.
Admittedly, this one is a little awkward, especially when someone extends a hand to you and expects you to do the same. But if you simply say “no thanks…it’s flu season” and then quickly change the subject, most everyone will understand.
Vulnerable people should avoid contact not only with possibly contaminated people, but also with possibly contaminated surfaces. This behavior can seem a little awkward as well, but it is also necessary. Doorknobs, remote controls, and other high-touch surfaces should be cleaned almost constantly with antibacterial cleaner.
Older people are already vulnerable to colds and flu, so it’s important that they stay as strong as possible. Watch diet and exercise routines, especially as the fall/winter holidays approach and both these things tend to fall by the wayside.
Overall health also includes mental and emotional health, so get plenty of rest and try to avoid stressful situations.
If You Get Sick
Despite all these precautions, many people will still fall ill this season. If that happens to you or to a senior you care about, the best thing to do is stay home and avoid contact until the illness passes. We all have promises to keep and things we would rather do than sit at home, but to avoid health complications and for the sake of other people’s health, that is the best thing to do.
Millions of people will get sick over the next few months, but if you incorporate these tips, you probably will not be one of them.
Jessica Hegg is the content manager at ViveHealth.com. Interested in all things related to living a healthy lifestyle she works to share valuable information and helpful products like this non slip rubber bath mat, aimed at overcoming obstacles and improving the quality of life for others.
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