The Impact of Cold and Flu Season
Cold and flu season is rough on many people, but it is particularly difficult for older adults. Because our immune systems become less effective as we age, winter can be a dangerous time for older people. Not only are colds and the flu unpleasant, but they can progress to pneumonia, which is very serious and can even be fatal. Additionally, there is new research to suggest that having the flu can raise your risk of a heart attack or stroke. It’s obvious, then, that older adults should take steps to avoid getting sick.
Protecting Yourself From Illness
- Start with vaccinations. Get the flu shot every year. Not only does it help protect you against influenza, but a recent Danish study found that when people with heart failure received a flu shot, they were 18 percent less likely to die of any cause than those who were unvaccinated. While you’re at it, get vaccinated against pneumonia, as well.
- Practice good hygiene. If there’s one thing the COVID-19 pandemic taught us, it’s the importance of proper handwashing. Washing your hands is never more important than during cold and flu season. Wash your hands before and after you eat or cook, after using the bathroom, after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, or after you’ve been in contact with someone who is sick. Additionally, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, and be careful about cleaning frequently touched surfaces in your home, like doorknobs, faucet handles, or the remote control.
- Steer clear of people who are sick. Knowing that your immune system is not as strong as it used to be, be careful to avoid being around sick people, including your family members. If you get sick, cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow, and limit your contact with others, to protect them as well.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Exercise regularly, eat a nutritious diet, and get plenty of sleep, to give your immune system as much support as possible.
What To Do If You Get Sick
- Take note of your symptoms. Colds and the flu are different illnesses, and they present differently. With a cold, you’re likely to have symptoms that come on gradually and include a sore throat, sneezing, a stuffed or runny nose, and a cough. With the flu, you may have these same symptoms, but you’ll also have symptoms that come on quickly, like a fever, chills, and fatigue. Colds resolve quickly, but the flu can last longer than a week.
- Know when to see a doctor. If you think you might have the flu, see a doctor as quickly as possible. Older adults are at higher risk for complications from the flu, so your doctor might want to start you on an antiviral medication. Available with a prescription, these medications can reduce the severity of the flu, as long as you begin taking them within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. If you have shortness of breath, chest pain, confusion or dizziness, or persistent vomiting, seek emergency medical attention.
- Practice self-care. If you have a cold or the flu, you can take over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen can lower your fever and relieve pain. Talk to your doctor about how OTC medications for cold and flu symptoms interact with any other medications you are taking. Get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, and don’t underestimate the power of chicken soup.
Enjoy a Healthy Lifestyle at Parkwood Heights
At Parkwood Heights, we prioritize the health and happiness of our residents. We want them to live life to the fullest, as they enjoy all the amenities that make Parkwood a great place to live their best lives. A lovely community in which to spend your retirement, Parkwood Heights is located just minutes from Victor, Fairport, Farmington, and Canandaigua. Our picturesque, 122-acre senior living campus affords many opportunities to enjoy your time with friends and family, while enjoying our scenic setting. Call (315) 986-9100 to learn more about all that we have to offer, or check out our website and reach out if you have any questions