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February is the last month of winter. Unfortunately, for too many Seniors, it might be the most dangerous month for their health. Flu activity most often peaks in February. According to most recent information from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, influenza activity is increasing across the country and further increases in activity are expected in the coming weeks [1].

Did you know that approximately 75% of the 2014–15 estimated flu hospitalizations occurred among adults aged 65 plus? According to CDC, Seniors 65 and older may account for as much as 90% of influenza deaths [2]. Because of weaker immune systems and existing chronic illnesses, the Elderly are at higher risk of catching a flu. Older adults are also more prone to developing serious post-flu complications, such as pneumonia, sinus, and ear infections.

How to safeguard Mom and Dad from contracting this virus during the next few, very risky weeks?

Here are six steps:

1. Mom should try to stay away from crowded and enclosed places. There are many activities Mom can engage at Home with her Caregiver: watching movies, doing some embroidery, reading books, which can be both exciting and comforting. If outside visitors or activities with grandkids are planned, consider rescheduling them. Kids are more likely to be careless with personal hygiene and spread the virus more quickly. If, however, there is a need to go to the doctor’s office or to visit a local grocery store, your Senior should consider not using the door knobs with bare hands (opting for hands-free or automatic doors), or use a paper towel to open a door.  Mom should stay away from individuals who are coughing or sneezing. 

2. Your Elderly loved ones and their Caregivers should wash their hands frequently. Our hands, because we touch everything with them, probably are the most infected parts of our body. Viruses spread most often when we touch our eyes and mouths with unclean hands. Home cleaning should be done more frequently for the same reason. Using wet mopping, wet dusting techniques and airing all the rooms in the house can support in keeping the Home safe from harmful viruses or bacteria. Air filters, vacuum filters should be replaced with fresh ones.

3. Raw garlic and lemon are natural antibiotics and should be included in your aging loved one’s meals. They have incredible antibacterial and antiviral properties. Because they are both high in vitamin C and antioxidants, they are indispensable during flu season. Garlic is a great addition for soups, sandwiches, while lemon can be used in salads and desserts. 

4. Mom and Dad should always have a glass of water at hand to help them stay hydrated throughout a day. In winter the air is dry outside and inside the Home (due to the use of heaters and radiators), so additional hydration is often recommended. Water with lemon, herbal tea, or mineral water are great alternatives. Intake of healthy fluids has similar effects to hand washing. Those fluids cleanse the inside of Mom and Dad’s bodies and flush away harmful substances.

5. A little exercise goes a long way in optimizing blood pressure, oxygenating, making certain that healthy ingested nutrients circulate into every part of the body, and that everything else is flushed out. 

6. Your parents need enough sleep so that their immune systems will be less vulnerable to any sicknesses, including flu. Make sure their bedroom has a stable temperature, neither too hot, nor too cold, so falling asleep will be effortless. The bedroom should be aired out daily for an hour or two in the morning when the outside air is the freshest.

  

When embarking upon new diet or exercise program, Mom should consult a healthcare professional. Health is our greatest wealth. Staying well nourished, well hydrated, getting enough sleep, and avoiding crowded, enclosed public places is a great way to prevent harmful viruses from entering and damaging your Senior loved one’s organism during this flu season.

With love for the Elderly…

References:

1. “Influenza (Flu)” http://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5 Feb. 2016. Web. 16 Feb. 2016

2. “Estimated Influenza Illnesses and Hospitalizations Averted by Vaccination — United States, 2014–15 Influenza Season” 

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/2014-15.htm#references 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 10 Dec. 2015. Web. 16 Feb. 2016

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