6 Secrets for Seniors Who Want to Stay Healthy This Winter
As we age, our immune systems have a harder time warding off infection. With colds, flu and other illnesses roaming Northern Virginia, senior health teams from At Home Personal Care are urging the elderly and their family members of all ages to follow these 6 crucial health tips to avoid, evade and counter illnesses this winter:
1. Get All Essential Vaccinations
If you haven’t already done so, make sure to go and get your annual flu vaccine as soon as possible. Because it takes about two weeks for your body to build immunity after the shot, it’s important to get it as early in the flu season as possible to give your body the best chance possible of fighting any possible exposure to the virus. There is a “high-dose” version of the flu shot especially for adults 65 and over that provides extra immune support against the virus strains out this year. Of course, nobody can guarantee the effectiveness of each year’s vaccine, but the statistics show that seniors who got the vaccine were able to fight the flu off better than seniors who did not get the vaccine. So, the flu shot can certainly at least reduce your risk of getting sick and lower your odds of suffering complications if you do get it.
In addition to the flu shot, you’ll also want to check with your doctor about any boosters you may need for the following vaccines:
Shingles or “Zoster”
Pertussis or “Whooping Cough”
Diphtheria and Tetanus Vaccine Booster
2. Wash Your Hands
If you knew there was one simple thing you could do to reduce your chances of getting a gastrointestinal illness by almost 50%, or an upper respiratory infection by about 20%, wouldn’t you do it? Well, according to the CDC, that’s what simply washing your hands properly can do for you. Wash your hands thoroughly after every restroom visit, after being out in public, after touching shopping carts, handrails, doorknobs, light switches, etc., after blowing your nose, and before you plan to eat something—constant vigilance! Also, keep your hands away from your face as much as possible to avoid inadvertently getting germs near your nose, eyes or mouth. Make sure to carry some sanitizing hand wipes or hand-sanitizer gel in your bag or coat pocket so you can get clean even if there’s no sink and soap at hand when you need it. Also keep lotion near at all times so you can keep your hands soft after you wash them.
3. Avoid Sick People
It’s so hard when the grandkids are sick—which can happen frequently, since they are exposed to germs all day at school and may not understand about coughing into their elbows or frequent hand washing. But it does them no favors if you visit them and then subsequently get very sick and suffer complications. Keep yourself healthy by waiting until they’re on the mend to visit. In the meantime, you can use technology to stay close. Ring them up on Skype, FaceTime or WhatsApp, or send them a good-old snail-mail card or care package to let them know you’re thinking about them while they recuperate.
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4. Get Plenty of Rest
People don’t appreciate sleep nearly enough—to say nothing of its powers to recharge your immune system. Pay attention to your body and what it’s telling you. Make sure to stay on a regular sleep schedule with at least 8 hours a night. Take naps if you need them and don’t overschedule yourself during the busy winter holiday season. This will go a long way to helping your body’s immune system stay strong so it can ward off the nasties.
5. Focus on Good Nutrition
Fill your plate with lots of fruits and veggies like leafy greens, orange-colored carrots, citrus and sweet potatoes, broccoli and bright berries. Also ask your doctor about probiotic foods that may help you, like yogurt. Green tea or teas with ginger and cinnamon are also helpful. If you have dietary restrictions that make eating these immune-boosters difficult, ask your doctor about supplements that can fill in the gaps to keep your immune system at the ready. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water so you stay hydrated.
Following your doctor’s recommendations, stick to a regular exercise schedule. Not only is exercise great for your immune system, it’s great for all of your mental and emotional health too. So, whether it’s walking around the mall, going to yoga or to a water exercise class, keep your body healthy by keeping it in motion. If it’s not too cold, a walk outdoors is a great way to stimulate the immune system with some fresh air. If it’s too icy out, exercising at home or the gym is always a great option too. Safety first!
These 6 tips are great for keeping everyone healthy over the winter—but especially for seniors! Share these tips with your family and friends and keep those icky germs away this winter! If you have any questions or concerns about your senior loved one’s health situation, talk to our At Home Personal Care expert home care team today: (703) 494-3989.
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