As we age, our immune systems can become weaker, and our recovery times longer. However, there are some things you can do to help prevent catching colds, flu or related illnesses like COVID-19. Cold and flu season hits seniors the hardest, with those 65 and older being three times more likely than any other age group to be hospitalized for pneumonia in the wake of these illnesses. If you do become ill, there are also many ways to increase your chances of a quick recovery. Here are some tips.
1. Stay Up to Date on Vaccinations
Vaccination is your first and best line of defense against many seasonal viruses like the flu and COVID-19. The flu vaccine is recommended annually by the CDC for everyone above the age of 6 months, and can significantly reduce your chances of becoming severely ill. This time of year also sees surges in the prevalence of COVID-19, which is also especially dangerous for older adults. Ensure that you stay up to date with any vaccines or recommended boosters for both diseases for maximum protection. This can mitigate your own chances of illness as well as prevent spreading it to others.
2. Wash Your Hands Regularly
After getting vaccinated, washing your hands often is one of the best prevention strategies against cold, flu and related viruses. Hands should be washed using warm water and soap. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds and wash between fingers and under nails. If you don’t have access to water and soap, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol instead. Make it a habit to wash your hands before eating, after going to the bathroom, or after touching shared surfaces.
3. Practice Healthy Habits
Eating a balanced and nutritious diet is important every time of year, but especially during cold and flu season. Also be sure to stay hydrated, as drinking enough water keeps mucous membranes moistened. One of the primary jobs of mucous membranes is preventing germs from spreading through saliva and tears. Proper hydration can also prevent potential dehydration-related complications later on.
4. Avoid Crowds
Viruses thrive when people crowd inside during cold weather. This is because the close proximity to other hosts makes it easy for the viruses to travel. Try limiting gatherings and avoid crowded, enclosed public spaces. If you are hosting a party, keep the guest list small and request that guests stay home if they are feeling unwell. Spending time with others is an important aspect of maintaining one’s overall health, but it’s important to do so responsibly this time of year.
5. Seek Treatment Early
Sometimes, even after taking many precautions, we can still become ill. If this happens to you, seek out treatment early. Understand that colds, flu and COVID-19 share many symptoms and can be easily confused with one another, but treatments differ. The only way to be sure if you have a cold, flu or COVID-19 is to get a medical diagnosis. While you may hesitate to seek testing or treatment if you “just have a cough,” there are additional therapies for the flu and COVID-19 that may reduce your chances of severe illness or complications, but they must be taken early to be most effective. Stay home during your recovery, rest and make an effort to keep hydrated. For those who have to go out while still exhibiting symptoms, wear a mask to reduce the risk of spreading illness.
Get More Wellness Resources at The Stayton
The Stayton is a sophisticated senior living community located in the heart of Fort Worth’s esteemed West 7th Cultural District. At The Stayton, we work with each resident to craft a custom wellness plan focused on their personal health goals. Residents also enjoy high-rise living with amenities such as a fitness center and indoor pool paired with easy access to dining, shopping and entertainment options.