As we head deeper into the fall heading into what may prove to be a cold winter, our seniors as well as family caregivers will be more at risk for developing cold and flu symptoms.
Some of you may already have been hit by the cold and flu bug!
There are things we can all do – and, as family caregivers, encourage senior loved ones to do, to fight the flu.
Naturally, the most important thing we can do to reduce the likelihood of catching and suffering with the seasonal flu is to get our flu shots. Be sure your senior gets one even if you have to arrange transportation to and from a provider. Don’t overlook yourself!
It is very important that caregivers stay current with all vaccinations and preventive health screenings in order to be at our best to care for others. In addition, we don’t want to catch something and end up passing it along to those under our care!
Weapons in the Fight Against Flu
- The previously-mentioned flu shot.
- If friends or family want to visit but are sick, ask them to come when they are well. Sometimes people need to be reminded that they can spread their illness and are invited back when well.
- Ask that grandchildren, home caregivers and others in regular contact receive flu shots so they don’t make senior loved ones sick.
- Remind everyone to wash their hands frequently while visiting, including the senior (and you).
- Keep your senior loved one hydrated with plenty of water and other fluids throughout the day.
- Sleep well. If your senior is having trouble sleeping, try to determine the cause and correct it. Yes, we know that it might be especially tough for family caregivers to make enough time, but everyone needs a good rest to recover and refuel.
- Eat well, being sure to include good sources of vitamin C in your daily diet and other immune enhancing foods. More on flu fighting foods below.
- Stay physically active! Yes, we say that for a lot of things but it really does make a difference.
Flu Fighting Foods
There are some foods that can help you fight off flu and its effects.
- Beans, especially black eyed peas and pinto beans, as well as peanuts and pumpkin seeds are good sources of zinc to help keep our immune systems at top performance.
- Carrots are rich in beta-carotene to help prevent respiratory infections, as are dark green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes and winter squash.
- Yogurt has beneficial prebiotics to help strengthen our immune systems and keep bowels regulated.
- Tomatoes are also a good source of vitamin C, which can boost our natural defenses against colds and flu. Include tomatoes, tomato juice, and tomato sauce in the menu.
- Almonds as a snack are packed with vitamin E to help prevent viral infections. Good sources to add to recipes include almond butter, chopped almonds or almond oil.
- Mushrooms are rich sources of selenium to help improve our immune systems to help fight viral infections.
Yes, getting a flu shot can make a real difference!
Flu shots are free to Medicare beneficiaries. Doctor’s offices, drug stores, urgent care centers, senior centers, health fairs and many other places are making flu shots available this season. The seasonal flu vaccine is in good supply.
For those over 65, there is a more potent version available to provide even better protection. While getting a flu shot, have senior loved ones get a pneumonia shot as well if they’re due!
The sooner you and your loved ones get a vaccine, the quicker you’ll be protected so don’t delay.
Win the fight against flu this season!