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How Caregivers Can Prepare Their Patients For Flu Season

By KellyRose McAleer - September 29, 2014

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As winter draws nearer, so does the inevitable flu season. We all know that it’s important to wash our hands so as not to spread germs, but if you’re looking for the best ways to prevent your loved one from contracting the flu, we have the top three ways for preparing for it.

Get the flu vaccine.

The first way to prepare for flu season is to get the flu vaccine. It is imperative for senior citizens to get vaccinated as soon as it is available in their area, because the shot is their best chance to lower the odds against getting seriously sick. Influenza is dangerous because it is a respiratory disease that leads to so many complications, such as infection or pneumonia. The vaccine might cause some aftereffects such as chills, achiness, or a slight fever, but these symptoms will subside within 24 hours. The symptoms mean the body is building up antibodies, and it is much better than the alternative.

There are two types of vaccination. The first is the standard dose, and the second is a higher dose made especially for older adults. Both vaccines protect the body from three strains of the flu, but the higher dose also helps give a boost to the immune system. Getting vaccinated is especially important for anyone who already has a chronic disease, because their bodies will already be struggling to fight with those, leaving it more vulnerable to the flu.

Up your vitamin D intake.

Besides getting the flu shot, make sure your loved one is getting enough Vitamin D – there are correlations between seasonal illnesses and low levels of Vitamin D. One way to get Vitamin D is through sun exposure. It doesn’t take much, maybe 20 minutes or less outside a day, which will help your body produce the vitamin itself. You should also include it in your diet. Vitamin D-rich foods include salmon, egg yolks, mushrooms, and since it’s hard to find foods with high amounts of Vitamin D look for milk that is fortified with it. You can also take vitamin supplements, although it is best to discuss this with your doctor first so they can decide on a dosage for you.

Boost your immune system.

As people grow older their immune systems weaken, which is why adults age 65 and older are so vulnerable to the flu. While washing your hands is good advice for flu prevention, you may still contract the germs unknowingly and then touch your hands to your nose, eyes, or mouth. You’ll need a strong immune system to fight off the flu, and for that you’ll need to healthy in more ways than one.

  • Attitude: If you stay happy in your outlook on life, your positivity can enhance your endorphins and will help boost the immune system.
  • Hydration: Seniors thirst less than they did when they were younger, so it is important to be aware that they will need 8-9 glasses of fluid (it could be soup, tea, water, etc) every day.
  • Stress less: Stress is like poison for your body. If you are full of stress, not only can it actually suppress your immune system, but stress has been linked to many other illnesses as well. Once you are sick and your body is compromised, it will be that much harder to fight any other illnesses you may encounter.
  • Sleep: sleep naturally increases your immune system’s fighting capabilities and it can help you control your stress. We need to get adequate amounts of sleep so that our body can regenerate its energy. Sleep will even help the body accept the flu vaccine!
  • Exercise: exercise is great for boosting the immune system. The exercise you choose to do doesn’t have to be strenuous, it can be as simple as taking a walk or doing yoga.
  • Diet: Keep your diet varied and nutrient-rich. A variety of fruits and vegetables with give you the protection of their vitamins, as well as any food that is low in fat and sugar. Seniors should be eating kale, avocados, broccoli, and berries which all help the immune system.

If your loved one does start to exhibit flu symptoms, tell their doctor immediately so that they can prescribe antiviral medications. Do you have any other suggestions for keeping the flu away?