While at any time of the year you are at risk of contracting the flu, the colder months of the year (April – October) are when you need to be on high alert. It’s important to prepare for flu season as an older person.
In March this year, more than 10,000 people were diagnosed with the flu, in comparison to only 3,173 in 2018.
That’s why it is especially important to start taking preventative measures to avoid contracting it yourself.
Unless you lock yourself away from everyone and everything, there is no one fool proof strategy of avoiding the flu completely.
However, there are definitely steps you can take to reduce your risk for infection.
We put together this list to help!
1. Get up-to-date Vaccinations
As we age our immune systems aren’t what they used to be… this means keeping up to date with our vaccinations is the most effective way of protecting ourselves from contracting the virus.
Each year Australia’s National Immunisation Program provides free influenza vaccines for older Australians.
You should make sure you get vaccinated each year, because the most common strains of the virus will likely change every year.
This means the vaccination you got last year won’t necessarily protect you from the strains of virus this year.
For more information on vaccinations click the link below:
2. Avoid close contact with people who are sick
The Flu is extremely contagious and is able to spread from one person to another from within 6 feet!
This could via droplets produced when sneezing, coughing, or even just talking.
Before catching up with friends or family check that they won’t be spluttering all over you. The flu is passed on through contact with other’s who are infected so keep your distance until they have the ok from their doctor.
3. Wash your hands
Soap is your friend! Keeping your hands washed consistently will help protect you from germs. If you go for a trip to the doctors, make sure to wash your hands before you head home.
If you’re worried there won’t be soap available, a good tip would be to carry an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with you on trips.
4. Maintain your immune system
You can benefit your entire body and especially your immune system by implementing health strategies. These include:
- Exercising as frequently as possible (even if just a walk)
- Sleeping for 7-9 hours a night
- RELAX (stress can actually make you more susceptible)
- Consuming lots of fresh fruit and veg
5. Gloves on
If you are forced to care for someone who is sick… play doctor and pop on a pair of surgical gloves and a face mask.
If you don’t have these available be sure to frequently wash your hands and wipe down any contaminated surfaces with a standard household cleaner.
Of course, prevention is the best cure, but if you do find yourself showing any symptoms that are at high risk for complication such as an unrelenting fever, or a shortness of breath the best course of action would be visiting your doctor.
In the colder months, it’s not just the flu you have to watch out for as an older person. We’ve put together a list of tips for staying well in winter, which you can check out here: https://letsgetcare.com.au/8-tips-to-keep-well-this-winter/