During the cold and flu season, individuals over the age of 65 face tremendous risks. Due to an already weakened immune system, a common cold or minor case of the flu can produce serious health complications. As with other health issues, prevention is the best defense. In addition to an annual flu vaccination, ensure you know what other measures to take to keep your loved one safe this cold and flu season.
Encourage a Healthy Diet
When an individual comes in contact with a cold or flu virus their body’s immune system kicks into action. It works by destroying the virus or at the very least, reducing some of its strength. As you age your immune system’s defenses weaken.
You can do your part by encouraging your loved one to incorporate immune-boosting foods into their diet. Foods like fresh garlic, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens and beef work to strengthen the immune system, which can help lower much of their risk.
Increase Vitamin Intake
If your loved one isn’t open or has dietary restrictions that prevent them from incorporating more immune-boosting foods into their diet, natural supplements can offer a similar benefit. Both vitamin C and D activate immune system activity on the cellular level, which in turn boosts defenses.
B12 shots are also thought to produce similar qualities. However, before starting a new regimen for your loved one, always speak with their provider first to highlight any medication restrictions and to determine the proper dosage.
Stay Away When Sick
When you’re sick it’s best to stay away from your loved one until a full recovery. Something as innocent as a kiss can result in the spread of the virus. Even if you’re feeling good, but someone else in your home is sick, you should still avoid contact.
Viruses don’t always produce immediate symptoms. An individual could very well have a cold or the flu for several days before symptoms begin to surface. Give yourself a few days to ensure you’re in the clear before putting them at risk.
When visiting with your loved one, instead of just chatting inside, consider an outdoor stroll. The healthier they are, the better their body’s systems will function, including their immune system. Even in the event your loved one contracts a cold or the flu, regular activity can help shorten the lifespan of the virus.
A short 15-minute walk is a great place to begin. If your loved one has mobility restrictions, water aerobics is an excellent alternative. Again, make sure you are getting proper clearance from their healthcare provider before beginning any new regimen.
Ensure you are playing an active role in your loved one’s healthcare by following these tips. Your efforts, combined with theirs can help keep them safe and healthy all season long.