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Preventing the Flu in Seniors

With the cold and rainy weather we've been having recently, it's clear that we're in the midst of flu season. Regardless of a person's age or health, every one is at risk of contracting the flu virus. The Centers for Disease Control says that more than 200,000 people get the flu each year and seniors in their 70's and 80's are at a higher risk due to their weakened immune systems. For that reason, seniors should take precautionary measures seriously to prevent the flu. It requires more than simply washing your hands frequently to stay healthy during flu season.

Symptoms of the flu include fever, chills, runny nose, headache, sore throat, fatigue, cough and in extreme cases, nausea and vomiting. These symptoms can be magnified in seniors who have declining immune systems and more frail bodies. The flu virus remains contagious up to 5 days after symptoms arise.

Follow these tips for staying healthy this flu season:

1. Get the flu shot

Remember, many people who have contracted the flu may still be contagious even if their symptoms do not show or have seemingly gone away so it is difficult to tell who is sick from who is not. This is why it is important to get the flu shot to protect yourself from hidden health risks. Each year the strains of the disease are different and a flu shot from last year may not do the trick this year. So ask your doctor about getting a flu shot today! The flu shot is also offered at many local drugstores for free. Any senior, even if convinced they are totally healthy, should get the flu shot. It could save your life.

2. Maintain proper personal hygiene

Avoid touching the nose and eyes while out in public. The flu virus lives everywhere during the winter -- door nobs, telephones, tables, chairs. A senior could easily become sick by just touching a product at the grocery store that has been contaminated with a flu carrier. Washing hands immediately after returning home and getting the flu shot are simple and easy ways to avoid the virus.

3. Drink plenty of fluids. Stay hydrated.

4. Stay rested.

5. Avoid heavily crowded areas.

The flu is an air transmitted disease. The highly-contagious seasonal flu spreads by "respirator drops" that fly through the air so it is important to stay clean and avoid people who appear to be coughing or wiping their nose. Consider wearing a mask that covers your mouth and nose for extra precaution.

It's important to follow all of these flu-prevention practices because even if one has the flu shot, it is not 100% guaranteed that they will not contract the virus. Take care of yourself and your immune system has a higher chance of functioning properly to keep you from getting sick. At Attentive Home Care, we want to make sure seniors can live healthily and happily this winter instead of spending time in bed with the flu.

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