Health Precautions for Seniors

By Cindy Sproles

As we enter into the cold and flu season it’s time to begin to prepare for the unexpected. Our elderly are prime targets for flu epidemics and pneumonia. Learning ways to increase the safety and security of our senior’s health can be managed with simple steps by caregivers and family members.

On average, 226,000 people are hospitalized every year because of Flu and over 36,000 die – unfortunately, the deaths are primarily the elderly. On the whole, most of our seniors fare well through the flu season, but for those who have chronic illness, a tendency to not eat well or care for themselves accurately, the effects can be devastating.

HOW DO I PROTECT MY PARENTS?

Begin with good common sense. Take an inventory of how well your loved one’s home is insulated from the elements. Repair any simple home damages that allow cold winter air and dampness to seep into the home. Keeping a home dry, warm and free of mold secures better overall health.

Encourage your elder family members to obtain the flu vaccine. According to the Center for Disease Control, physicians are recommending two flu injections—the first for the yearly strain of the flu and the second as a protection against Swine Flu. Make an appointment with your local health department or physician and do it early before the flu attacks. Build the immunity levels now. If there are private caregivers in the home, encourage them to do the same.

Keep trash cans lined with can liners and keep tissue throughout the home. Empty them daily and spray with an anti-bacterial spray. By the same token, keep hand sanitizers in several areas around the home, especially in the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom.  Buy anti-bacterial wipes and keep door knobs, toilet handles and refrigerator handles wiped clean.  Wash, wash, wash your hands and encourage your caregivers and family members to do the same. The best offense to the flu is simple defensive hand washing. Soap and water does wonders.

If you become ill and run a fever, stay away from others. Most fever carries an infectious period of 24 hours. Mingling with others while ill only spreads the infection and opens our seniors to an unnecessary exposure to live virus/bacteria. Our elderly have weaker immune systems and a common cold can turn quickly, leading into pneumonia and even death.

Make sure your elder parents maintain a good diet. The elderly tend to eat less so keeping them on top of a good healthy, diet rich in vitamins A, C, and B, as well as the omega-3’s will help build a strong immune system and give them energy.

If your loved one requires assistance in the home, make every effort to find a way to provide the additional help. More and more insurance companies are turning to in-home assistance to help keep the elderly safe and healthy. Daily monitoring of the needs of your loved ones can be managed easily by good, dependable caregivers who love their profession. Reputable companies like Comfort Keepers can guide and direct families with the needs of their aging parents and work to keep them as healthy as possible through the flu season.

If you would like further information on protecting your loved ones from the flu, check out the Center of Disease Control at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/infectioncontrol/

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