As seniors age, susceptibility to illness and likelihood of serious consequences increase. Something as simple as a cold could quickly escalate to a much more severe sickness that could result in hospitalization for vulnerable older adults. This means that as a caregiver, cold and flu season brings the need to worry about your parents’ health as much as your own.
• Make hand washing a part of the daily routine. All caregivers should wash their hands several times throughout the day, particularly after using the restroom, before cooking and eating, and before and after administering any medications or caring for any wounds. Seniors should also wash their hands regularly, or use antibacterial hand gel to control the spread of germs.
• Control who visits your parents. While time with friends and family is important to a senior’s emotional health, visitors going in and out of the home during cold and flu season is an invitation to germs. When friends or family make plans to visit, make sure they are healthy. Ask them to reschedule their visit if they have a fever, headache, cough, or runny nose that may indicate they are coming down with something.
• Stay active. Regular physical activity is important for maintaining a strong immune system and encouraging your body to fight off impending infections. Take a daily walk around the block, spend some time at the gym, or follow a workout program. If your aging parents cannot handle intensive activity or the weather is too cold to go out, get them moving in a gentler way by putting on music and encouraging them to dance or having them help with activities such as putting away groceries that get them bending, lifting, and moving around.
• Nourish your body. Seniors tend to eat a less varied diet as they get older, but this often results in their bodies not being able to fight off illness or recover as effectively. Serve a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables and supplement with daily vitamins. Vitamin C is particularly important for keeping the immune system strong.
• Keep surfaces clean. Cold and flu viruses can survive on hard surfaces such as doorknobs and counters for up to 8 hours, meaning everything you touch could be playing host to germs just waiting to get you and your senior parents sick, especially if visitors are under the weather. Use disinfecting cleaners to remove germs from the surfaces of your home and wash linens and towels regularly. Take germ control with you when out shopping by wiping carts and baskets with disinfecting cloths before use.
• Get plenty of rest. Caring for your aging parents is stressful and it is not unusual for all of you to have a few sleepless nights. Lack of sleep and stress, however, lower the body’s ability to fight off infections. Encourage your seniors to get more rest and be sure to take time to relax and rejuvenate so your body can protect itself and you can continue giving them the care they deserve.
If you have an aging loved one and are considering home health care services, contact Interim HealthCare today