Every year, flu season seems to affect us all in some way. While the annual flu virus presents a risk to our population, it is very risky for older adults. Besides, the rise of the COVID-19 virus, preventing respiratory illnesses is even more important. Elderly individuals should take specific precautions, especially during the winter, to help protect against these viruses.
Flu symptoms can quickly escalate into medical emergencies among those with compromised immune systems. This includes people with chronic illnesses, and it also includes aging adults whose bodies generally take longer to recover from illnesses.
While a young healthy individual can often fight off the flu virus within a week, those with compromised immune systems may be unable to fight the virus. In turn, this can lead to dangerous complications or even hospitalizations.
In the United States, the flu is most prevalent in fall and winter. Luckily, with annual flu shots, the influenza virus is considered low risk now. Even so, taking preventative flu precautions is important every year.
Taking Flu Precautions
Everyone, regardless of age, should take basic preventative precautions against influenza during peak season. This includes:
- Washing your hands frequently (wash for long enough with soap and water)
- Staying home and isolated when you’re feeling sick
- Covering your nose and mouth
- Avoiding touching your eyes or mouth
- Participating in annual flu shots
Home Care and the Flu
Your loved one’s home care worker can help them take the necessary measures to protect and prevent the flu virus. For those with dementia or other memory conditions, remember to take these precautions can be difficult.
Having a home care worker step in can be important to protecting your loved one from dangerous viruses. This could save a life!
Nonmedical home care workers can help seniors avoid contracting the flu in a variety of ways:
- Transportation to a doctor’s office, clinic, or pharmacy to receive the flu vaccine.
- Preparation of healthy meals to keep up immune system strength and ensure seniors are sufficiently hydrated.
- Checking in on seniors regularly and letting their care team know if their health seems to have deteriorated in any way. Some common signs and symptoms of the flu to look for include: fever, cough, chills, lack of appetite, and more. A home health worker can help pay close attention to watch these symptoms in elderly adults.
- Safe, prompt transportation to medical appointments if symptoms do arise.
- Help with activities of daily living, which can reduce stress. This eases pressure on the immune system. Companionship care can also reduce stress.
- Light housekeeping and help with grooming and hygiene decrease the likelihood of contracting infections. Soap and water remain excellent defenses against microbial infections, so it’s important to wash your hands often and stick to a regular bathing schedule.
Make sure the home care agency you hire has a vaccination program for all workers. Anyone who works in the care industry should receive a vaccination against the flu to avoid transmitting it to their clients. Health officials recommend the flu vaccine every six months.
Your loved one’s home care worker can help to make sure your loved one stays regular and up to date on their vaccinations. Also, be sure to ask your home care worker to manage a vaccine schedule for the COVID-19 virus (and boosters).
At Simply Compassion, we take the protection of our staff and clients seriously. We take all necessary COVID-19 and flu prevention measures to help limit the spread of these harmful viruses. If you have any further questions about our vaccine and health safety protocols, contact us today.