The flu causes as many as 12,200 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths in Canada annually. People over 65 are especially at risk due to weakened immune systems and possible underlying conditions. The Winter of 2017 was dominated by the influenza subtype known as H3N2 causing the most confirmed infections, and is expected to do so again in 2018. This strain of the flu virus tends to hit older people a lot harder and causes amplified symptoms.
Getting the flu isn’t pleasant at any age but for the elderly, getting sick can hold some serious complications. Even a seemingly mild case of flu can turn into a fatal bout of pneumonia. It is of vital importance to take a proactive approach to flu season whether you care for an elderly loved one or are a senior yourself. A yearly flu vaccine, keeping active through the winter months and getting regular medical check-ups are a good way to start. Here’s some more things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones from a flu onslaught this winter.
Eating a healthy diet is always important, and especially so as you get older. While a younger person can survive on a diet of junk food (not that we recommend it!), the same diet will leave an elderly individual severely undernourished and at a huge risk of falling ill. The benefits of following a healthy, balanced diet can be amplified by including a variety of superfoods on a daily basis. Food such as kale, avocados, mushrooms and broccoli, all pack a potent nutritional punch and can contribute significantly towards a flu-free winter.
Drink plenty of water
Many seniors experience dehydration but luckily it is something that can be prevented without much effort. If the senior in your care has mobility problems, keeping a bottle of water nearby can significantly increase water intake and thus improve overall health.
A lot of seniors are under the impression that sleeping less is a normal part of aging, but that’s not the case. Sleep is as important for seniors as it is younger people. Not getting enough sleep can lead to multiple health issues, including a weakened immune system. Making simple lifestyle changes like avoiding late-afternoon caffeine consumption and switching the TV off an hour before bedtime can help establish healthy sleeping patterns for everyone.
Supplement Your Diet
While a healthy diet is one of the most effective ways to fight the flu, vitamins and herbal supplements can boost the immune system of a senior significantly. Ensuring adequate levels of vitamins and minerals such as zinc and vitamin D3 can make you a lot less susceptible to the flu virus.
Assisting the elderly to be prepared for winter can go a long way in minimizing the risk of being hospitalized or even worse. Due to weakened immune systems our beloved seniors can’t ward off germs like they used to and all possible measures need to be taken to ensure that they stay healthy.