Because we care about our seniors and their families, at Moving Forward we abide by best health practices as we work with them in their homes. We are blogging today to share some tips for those who are looking for ways to stay well during this year’s cold and flu season.
Get vaccinated for the flu.
While there is no vaccine for the common cold, vaccination is the first step in flu prevention. The CDC estimates that that between 71 and 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older, so they recommend that everyone 65 years old and older should receive a flu vaccine. They also recommend that everyone who has regular contact with folks 65 and over should also be vaccinated so they don’t accidentally spread the virus to a senior.
Wash or sanitize your hands.
Cold and flu viruses are highly contagious. They are easily spread by indirect contact. For example, if a sick person sneezes into his hands and then touches a doorknob, the next person touching that doorknob can very easily pick up the virus. This means that we can get sick even if we don’t have direct contact with a sick person. Place alcohol-based hand sanitizer in convenient places. Using hand sanitizer regularly throughout the day is a good way to reduce our risk of getting sick. Washing our hands periodically is another good option. If you wash your hands, use warm water and rub your hands together vigorously for at least 20 seconds. Also, don’t want to forget to clean underneath fingernails where viruses like to hide.
Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose, and mouth. Researchers have found that people typically touch their faces over 1,000 times per day. Eyes, noses, and lips are touched an average of 15 times per hour. If a virus has managed to climb onto our fingers, as soon as we touch our faces, we potentially provide that virus with a doorway to enter our bodies. Viruses are good enough at getting us sick. Let’s try not to help them.
Do the elbow cough.
When a person coughs or sneezes, they send thousands of tiny water droplets into the air. If the person is sick, some of those droplets will contain viruses. Some of the droplets can be very small and can float in the air for a long time, giving others in the room the opportunity to breathe them in, potentially allowing the viruses to enter their bodies. Covering your cough or sneeze with your inner arm or a handkerchief is one way to reduce the spread of water droplets into a room. The more we can do to block the droplets from flying out of our noses and mouths, the better, and washing or sanitizing our hands afterwards is a good way to be sure we don’t accidentally place a few of those water droplets directly on the surfaces in the room.
Disinfect household and office surfaces regularly during an illness and for 72 hours afterwards, in an effort to reduce the opportunities for others to pick up the viruses. This would include anything a person might touch. Items like TV remotes, telephones, coffee pots, and books are all great tools for spreading illnesses. Since sick people often go out in public, avoid touching surfaces in public places. Shopping carts, door handles, and even items on the shelves (especially medicine packages in the cold and flu isle at the local store) may have all been touched by people who are still sick. Carry travel-size bottles of hand sanitizer and sanitizer wipes, and consider using them when you enter a store and when you leave, hopefully cleaning off any potential viruses from your hands.
Drink plenty of water.
Water flushes the system and rehydrates the body. Most adults should drink at least eight, 8-ounce glasses of water a day. This is a good idea no matter what, but when a person is sick, drinking extra water can help the immune system fight the infection. Often times, especially if we have been vomiting or have diarrhea, we are tempted to reduce the amount of water we drink, but this is the time when our bodies need even more water. If necessary, take small sips of water, numerous time each hour, or “drink” water in other forms like popsicles, Jello, or even ice cream. The key is to keep the liquids flowing into our bodies.
If you do become ill, stay home, drink plenty of fluids, and get some extra rest. Most colds go away on their own, but the flu can be dangerous. If you have any questions or concerns about your illness, consult your physician about the next best steps to take.
Looking forward to a happy and healthy downsizing season!
Owner, Moving Forward