Senior living facilities are seeing an influx of patients who wind up under their auspices due to their primary caregiver contracting an illness such as the flu. The flu incapacitates victims, and worst of all carries the risk of spreading infection among those closest to the afflicted individual. The question is, will senior living facility owners be able to keep up with the demand and provide adequate and safe housing for seniors in need? Read on to learn about why flu shots are more important than ever for those in advanced age.
Do You Need a Flu Shot?
Currently, there are roughly 65.7 million caregivers in the United States, making up almost 29% of the adult population in the country. These individuals provide the necessary care for the millions of retired Americans who require assistance with overcoming age-related impairments in order to function. But what happens when these caregivers are sick and unable to take care of their seniors? The stresses of daily life combined with taking care of another individual can be enough to make someone susceptible to illness such as the flu. Studies have shown that increased stress compromises the immune system, and other studies have shown that a caregiver’s finances and physical health can be negatively impacted by having to care for another individual full-time.
According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, 17% of caregivers feel that their physical health has worsened as a result of their responsibilities. This is concerning because a caregiver’s health is compromised, it means that the person they are taking care of is at risk of also becoming compromised or improperly cared for. Especially if someone is dealing with a progressive disease such as Alzheimer’s, care from a trusted and healthy provider is essential. When the flu season enters into effect, seniors and caregivers must take care to be especially vigilant and proactive about protecting against infection.
Dealing with Flu & Senior Care
In recent flu seasons, many of those who have been hospitalized for noro-virus or influenza have been over the age of 65, at least according to the CDC. This is unsurprising, as it’s easy to picture why the flu spreads so easily in a confined and enclosed environment such as a senior living facility. Even healthy seniors could be at risk, as you never know who is carrying the infection around. Senior activity centers and adult day care facilities all tend to see reduced attendance around this time as seniors deal with the side effects of catching the flu. Whenever home caregivers become infected with the flu, the continuity of care gets disrupted and they need to find a way to ensure their senior is not left hanging. This creates a stressful situation for all parties involved and the senior’s family may be left to trying to piece together an emergency support system.
Staying Healthy During Flu Season
You’ll need to avoid getting sick to take care of your senior. If you want to remain healthy and happy during the flu season, then follow some of these simple guidelines and suggestions. Practicing healthy habits can help keep you and your loved ones from contracting the flu this season.
- Avoid contact in public and with anyone whom you know is sick
- Get a flu shot
- Get enough rest so that your immune system is not susceptible to illness
- Stay home if you are sick
- Wash your hands with soap and water often
- Stay warm and indoors
- Keep your hands far from your face, mouth, and nose
- Clean communal surfaces daily
- Keep the windows closed
There are also a number of activities and lifestyle choices that seniors can partake in that will increase their vitality and strength against the flu. Seniors have the opportunity to improve their cognitive functioning, health, and more by engaging in these activities.
Getting More Vitamin C
As you get older, your immune system will gradually become less effective. Getting the correct intake of Vitamin C as you age is vital for continued health and protecting all the cells in your body. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, meaning it attacks things that are harmful to your health. It also creates collagen, a vital component in creating skin and connective tissues for wound healing, as well as brain function and metabolizing.
Walking is a great, low-impact physical activity that many seniors can take part in and enjoy. Cardiovascular exercise is important for health, but as we age it can become harder to engage in intense physical exercise. Even just taking a 20-minute walk every day can elevate your heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and strengthen the cardiac muscles. According to Michael A Schwartz, MD of Plancher Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in New York, walking is good for the bones and it can stop the loss of bone mass for people with osteoporosis. Better still - add in a weight-bearing exercise like climbing a few flights of stairs to rebuild bone mass.
Your senior can reap real benefits from the daily yoga, both physically and mentally. Yoga focuses on enhancing your stability and balance, both of which are essential for seniors. Exercises in yoga are usually gentle on the muscles and joints, and programs catering exclusively to seniors will be more doable. Plus, you don’t have to be in pristine shape to take part in a beginner’s class. Yoga enthusiasts will all testify to the efficacy of their practice in enhancing both their physical and mental well being, plus there is always a yoga studio within a few miles if you live in or near a major metropolitan city.
These are all some fun and simple ways to protect yourself and your senior from contracting the flu. Are you looking into a senior living facility for your family member that will support their senior health? Landmark Senior Living is available today to take you and your loved one for a tour at one of our seven premier and affordable communities. Call now for more information!