Avoiding The Flu Is Vital For Seniors

Following these simple steps may keep flu away from vulnerable elderly

Getting a flu shot.

Getting a flu shot. Photo by Andy Towle. |

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Visiting Angels, one of the nation’s largest in-home senior care companies, has tips to help seniors fight the flu.

Weaker immune systems make seniors more vulnerable to the flu, and that’s why 90 percent of all flu-related deaths and more than half of flu-related hospitalizations occur in people age 65 or older.

Help by limiting your older loved one’s exposure to the flu by offering to run errands — go to the grocery store, the drug store, get their mail, etc.

Assemble a “Fight the Flu Kit” with these items suggested by Visiting Angels (items available at most retail stores):

• Paper towels — encourage seniors to use paper towels in the bathroom instead of hand towels, which can harbor germs.

• Get an easy-to-read thermometer — if seniors have a fever higher than 102 degrees, that could indicate they have the flu.

• Vitamin C or little boxes of orange juice — to build seniors’ weaker immune systems.

• Pocket-size hand sanitizer, with aloe — helps keep seniors’ skin germ-free without drying out their sensitive skin.

• Pens — seniors should always have their own pen handy — pens shared in public areas carry a ton of germs.

• Lysol or other disinfectant spray — to spray doorknobs, handles, light switches, etc... at least once a week — viruses can live up to 48 hours on plastic and stainless steel surfaces.

• Hand soap — recent studies show plain soap and water works just as well, if not better, than antibacterial soaps.

• Hand sanitizer wipes — these are handy to have on-the-go, whether to clean hands or public surfaces. Don’t rely on just baby wipes because they do not contain the proper ingredients to kill viruses and germs.

Places seniors should avoid because they carry the most germs include:

• Public restrooms — especially the sink where bacteria can survive there the longest. (Source: University of Arizona study)

• The mall — especially food court tables — the rags used to “clean” can spread harmful bacteria — they can contain E. coli because they are not cleaned or changed regularly. (Source: Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University)

• Grocery stores — this is where many people go when they are sick, whether to get some OJ, chicken noodle soup, or medicine — also grocery cart handles — About 70 to 80 percent of the shopping carts tested nationwide had E. coli, says Charles Gerba, Ph.D., University of Arizona.

• Restaurants — one of the dirtiest areas is the table top due to the “clean” rag used to wipe them down.

• Libraries — some of the dirtiest areas are the books, computers and tabletops, just from the many people who touch them each day. (Source: Lifescript)

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