The CDC estimates up to 70 percent of flu-related hospitalizations each year involve older adults. According to Everyday Health, it’s also common for the flu to contribute to pneumonia, a respiratory infection that can be dangerous for seniors. These are definitely two conditions older adults should avoid whenever possible. Keep reading to learn how seniors may be able to achieve this goal.
Pay Attention to Vaccination Recommendations
Seniors are advised to get seasonal flu vaccinations, since each vaccine is tailored to the strain of influenza expected to be most prevalent during a particular season. While being vaccinated for the flu does reduce the risk of developing pneumonia, older adults with compromised immune systems or chronic health issues are often advised to get separate pneumonia vaccinations as well. There are two types of pneumonia vaccines, which are typically given a year apart:
• PCV13 – Protects against 13 common types of pneumonia-causing bacteria
• PPSV23 – Protects against 23 additional types of pneumonia bacteria
It’s also a good idea for family caregivers and other family members who spend a lot of time around their older loved ones to get vaccinated as well to reduce the risk of unintentionally spreading the flu or passing along germs that can cause pneumonia.
Seniors who want to remain healthy as they age can benefit in a variety of ways when they receive professional homecare services. Austin, TX, Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one accomplish daily tasks, prevent illness, and focus on living a healthier and more fulfilling life.
Practice Good Hygiene
Both the flu and pneumonia can be spread through contact with counters, doorknobs, and other surfaces. Airborne particles can also transfer these illnesses to seniors. For these reasons, older adults are encouraged to be mindful of good hygiene habits that should include:
• Washing hands regularly
• Cleaning counters and other frequently touched surfaces
• Minimizing face touching
Seniors and anybody regularly around older adults should also cover their mouths and noses with tissues or their inner elbows when sneezing or coughing. Doing so reduces the possibility of unintentional germ transfer.
Take Steps to Naturally Boost the Immune System
Another one of the reasons seniors are susceptible to the flu and pneumonia is because their immune systems are less capable of fighting off illness-causing organisms. Encourage your loved one to naturally boost his or her immune system by:
• Eating citrus fruits, green leafy veggies, berries, low-fat dairy products, and other immune system–boosting foods
• Getting sufficient sleep
• Finding ways to regularly exercise
A home caregiver can help your loved one prepare nutritious meals and get regular exercise. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of elder care. You can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.
Ditch the Smoking Habit
According to HealthInAging.org, simply quitting smoking is a step that could prevent pneumonia. The increased circulation that goes along with quitting can also provide an added immune system boost that reduces flu susceptibility. On a side note, the physical effects of no longer smoking (often referred to as “smoker’s flu” because the symptoms resemble those caused by the flu) are normally temporary and not the same as the regular flu.
Drink Plenty of Healthy Fluids
Regular hydration keeps nasal passages moist so they can trap germs. Drinking plenty of water, green tea, and other healthy beverages also increases circulation, which helps the immune system work more efficiently, further reducing flu and pneumonia risk.
Preventing illnesses such as the flu and pneumonia is important because they can lead to more significant health issues. Living with serious health conditions can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional 24-hour care. Austin seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more. If you need professional home care for your loved one, Home Care Assistance is just a phone call away. Reach out to one of our Care Managers today at (512) 623-7800.