10 Ways to Protect Yourself This Flu Season

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As the seasons change in Columbus, various weather conditions may trigger illness and influenza. According to the Ohio Department of Health, flu season in the Buckeye State can run anywhere from October to March, and compared to other age groups, seniors aged 65 and older are at a higher risk of experiencing flu-related complications.

These complications, such as fatigue, coughing, and sneezing, can occur more commonly in senior citizens than other groups of adults because as we age, our internal immune defenses typically become weaker. With this in mind, it is very important for senior citizens to look after themselves on a daily basis and prioritize habits that promote healthy living.

Some habits, tips and suggestions for seniors could include the following:

1. Get a Flu Vaccine

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), those who are 6 months and older should receive a flu shot on an annual basis. However, those aged 65 and older “bear the greatest burden of severe flu disease,” making this portion of the population a priority for influenza vaccines.

If you’re looking for a place near you to receive your vaccine, the following locations in Upper Arlington are all within 10 miles of our retirement community:

If you are looking for additional locations for a flu shot or have any questions about these vaccines, please reach out to our team for guidance today.

2. Take a Zinc Supplement

Zinc has been proven to benefit many aspects of your body, such as cell growth and intestinal health. During flu season, zinc is also a helpful resource for preventing influenza because it is known for boosting your immune system.

According to a 2004 study by Case Western Reserve in the October issue of the Journal of American Pharmacist Association, zinc can help reduce the duration and severity of the common cold, an illness that sometimes results in similar symptoms as the flu.

3. Get More Sleep

For adults 65 years and older, the CDC recommends 7-8 hours of sleep per day. During flu season, getting enough sleep is especially important because sleep deprecation could potentially slow your immune system’s functionality.

If your immune system is not at its optimal level, it may have a harder time than usual fighting germs, meaning you may have higher odds of getting sick.

To ensure that you’re getting enough sleep, we suggest incorporating better sleeping habits into your bedtime routine by:

  • Making your bedroom dark and quiet
  • Going to sleep at the same time every night
  • Waking up at the same time every morning
  • Removing electronic devices from the bedroom

4. Don’t Touch Your Face

A simple but effective measure that can help prevent the flu is not touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Touching these parts can spread germs from contaminated surfaces such as phones and tables to our bodies.

Little actions we may not be aware that we do during the day, such as scratching our eyes or resting our palms on your chins can potentially transfer bacteria and viruses to the face, which can be a contributing factor for contracting the flu.

5. Wash Your Hands

Another way seniors can prevent sickness and avoid spreading germs to others is by washing their hands with soap and water. The CDC has a list of suggested times for handwashing, which include, but aren’t limited to, the following:

  • Before, during and after preparing food
  • After using the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage

If you do not have access to soap and water in any of these cases, an alternative to handwashing is using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

6. Drink Plenty of Water

There are many health benefits to drinking water that seniors, as well as people of all ages, can take advantage of during flu season. And even when influenza isn’t at its peak, the CDC recommends drinking water to meet your daily fluid needs.

By staying hydrated, seniors can work toward preventing sickness because water contributes to:

  • Keeping your temperature normal
  • Flushing out toxins
  • Boosting your immune system
  • Relieving headache symptoms

If water isn’t your drink of choice for staying hydrated during flu season, other alternatives could include tea, vegetable juice or even soup.

7. Exercise Regularly

To prevent the flu or any other seasonal sickness, exercise is an important solution. Choosing an exercise that can raise your heartrate, while also knowing what your body is comfortable with, is a great way to boost your immune system.

In fact, a survey by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine states that exercising vigorously for at least two and a half hours every week can reduce your chances of catching the flu. This survey also suggests that 100 cases of the flu per 1,000 people could be prevented simply by incorporating exercise into their routines.

Seniors looking to prevent the flu can incorporate exercises into their daily retirement routines as a way to contribute to preventing sickness. Seniors should know their limits while picking exercises, keeping in mind that even with low mobility, there are plenty of ways to stay fit, such as engaging in scaled strength training and flexibility exercises.

8. Eat a Balanced Diet

In addition to taking a zinc supplement and drinking plenty of water, making healthy choices in your diet is an essential step in preventing influenza in seniors.

There are a wide variety of immunity-boosting foods at your local grocery store that can contribute to your wellness levels. These foods can be incorporated into your diet as a main course, side dish, snack and more! They include:

  • Garlic
  • Beef
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Leafy greens
  • Salmon
  • Soup
  • Broccoli
  • Red peppers
  • Bananas

9. Clean and Disinfect Your Home

Stop germs dead in their tracks by taking the time to clean your home with disinfectant wipes and sprays. Applying disinfectants to commonly touched items in your home such as light switches, doorknobs and remote controls can play a part in preventing sickness and stopping the spread of bacteria and viruses.

By cleaning on a consistent basis, you will contribute to a healthier environment for you and your loved ones. Other items that you should consider disinfecting on a regular basis are your phone, bed sheets, tables, and, of course, bathrooms.

10. Invest in a Humidifier

Humidity can be defined as the amount of water vapor in the air. At the peak of flu season in Ohio, which is typically in the fall and winter, the air in your home may be dryer than usual. Humidifiers come in many different types (ultrasonic, steam, etc.) and function by putting moisture back into the air, which can be significant in your goal of preventing sickness.

By putting a humidifier in your room when you sleep at night, you can begin to breathe easier, as well as prevent and sooth symptoms that can come with the flu, such as:

  • Congested sinuses
  • Dry skin
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing

Additional benefits that can come with owning a humidifier include improved sleep, healthier house plants, and protected wood furnishings.

Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle with First Community Village

At First Community Village, our team places a priority on the health and wellness of our residents. By visiting our Health Center, our seniors have access to resources such as a state-of-the-art therapy gym and continuing care options.

If you’re interested in learning more about our health center or ways you can maintain positive wellness levels, reach out to us today or read some of our other related blog posts: