cold prevention

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Cold and Flu Prevention Tips for Seniors and Caregivers

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There’s no doubt about it – we’re right in the middle of the cold and flu season, and we still have weeks to go before the season fades away into springtime. Arizona health care professionals tell us that seniors and their caregivers are the most likely groups to be affected by the flu which is sweeping the country this winter – seniors because their immune systems are less robust, and caregivers because they are in close proximity to seniors every day. This being the case, here are some Phoenix home health care tips which should be observed to reduce the likelihood of contracting the flu, and perhaps lessening the severity of it when it does strike.

Keep the Home Germ-Free

Yes, this is impossible to do with 100% efficiency, but if you do your very best, that will eliminate much of the potential for disease. Here are a few important ways you can keep germs out of the living environment:

  • Wash frequently – you’d be surprised at how effective a simple act like washing your hands can be at killing germs. All it takes is some warm water and soap, and rubbing your hands together for 20 or 30 seconds. When you aren’t near soap and water, you can use hand sanitizer to accomplish the same thing.
  • Household cleaning – when you’re cleaning around the home, use disinfectant agents in the bathroom, kitchen, and other common areas, and give special attention to all those items, e.g. light switches, TV remotes, cellphones, door knobs, that are routinely touched or handled by seniors in the home.
  • Personal hygiene – make sure everyone in the household observes good hygienic practices when sneezing or coughing, so germs aren’t projected out into the environment. Also, it’s a good idea to minimize touching of the facial area with hands, because that has a huge potential for introducing germs into the eyes, mouth, nose, etc.

Keep Exercising

Don’t give up on exercise during the winter, because exercise is one of the best ways of maintaining a healthy immune system. If you have a senior loved one, try and get him/her to take at least a short walk as often as possible, or to get involved with an exercise program at some community center. Studies have shown that regular exercise can lower the risks of contracting colds and flu by as much as 33%, so this should be one of your most important ways of keeping healthy.

Avoid Crowds

Some of the places where germs are most rampant, and where you have far less control of any germs being spread, are in public places where large crowds of people can gather. Every time you go to a department store or grocery store, there’s a chance of being infected by some person you come in contact with, and that’s just simple math – at home, you only have family members that you’re in contact with, but in a store or other public place, you could literally be exposed to hundreds of people in a very short time.

This isn’t to suggest that you make your elderly loved one a shut-in during the winter season, but AZ Home Health professionals recommend limiting those outings to germ-ridden public settings until after flu season passes. You won’t be able to manage absolutely every possibility for removing exposure to colds and flu, but if you are vigilant about handling the precautions listed above, you’ll go a long way toward staying safe for the remainder of the season.