Since flu activity is rising across the United States and there’s been a slight uptick in the number of deaths, extra care should be taken to avoid and resist the infection. Weaker immune systems make seniors more vulnerable to the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 90 percent of all flu-related deaths and more than half of flu-related hospitalizations occur in people age 65 or older.
Experts have suggested how seniors can create a “Flu Fighter Kit” with a few simple items:
• Paper towels — encourage seniors to use paper towels in the bathroom instead of hand towels, which can harbor germs.
• Ear or digital 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 — this helps build seniors’ weaker immune systems.
• Disinfectant spray — reminder for seniors to spray doorknobs, handles, light switches, etc. at least once a week, as 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 sanitizers or sanitizing 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.
Additional flu-fighting tips
• Get the flu shot. It is free and covered by Medicare. People 65 and older have two flu shots available to choose from — a regular dose vaccine and a newer higher dose flu vaccine that results in a stronger immune response. Seniors should talk to their doctors to see if they’re a good fit for this new vaccine.
• Shorten the duration of symptoms by getting an anti-viral medication within 48 hours.
• Avoid certain public places:
Public restrooms, especially the sink, because bacteria can survive there the longest (Source: University of Arizona study).
The mall, mainly the food court tables, because the rags used to “clean” can spread harmful bacteria. They can contain E. coli because the rags are not cleaned or changed regularly (Source: Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University).
Grocery stores, because this is where many people go when they are sick, whether to get some OJ, chicken noodle soup or medicine. Beware of grocery cart handles — about 70-80 percent of the shopping carts tested nationwide had E. coli, says Charles Gerba, Ph.D., at the University of Arizona
Restaurants, where one of the dirtiest areas is the table top due to the “clean” rag used to wipe them down (Source: Lifescript).
Libraries, where some of the dirtiest areas are the books, computers and table tops, just from the many people who touch them each day (Source: Lifescript).
— Information provided by SYNERGY HomeCare