While certainly everyone needs to be on the lookout for flu symptoms during the fall and winter months, those who provide elder care and other types of caregiving need to be especially vigilant. For the elderly and other vulnerable populations with weakened immune systems, a case of the flu could be deadly and not just a couple of days in bed.
Sounds Like, Feels Like…
Not every sniffle is the flu so it’s important to know what symptoms to be on the lookout for in yourself or someone who you are caring for regularly. The CDC lists these symptoms of the flu:
If you’re concerned that these symptoms might be something else, such as COVID-19, take a look at the CDC’s website where they compare the differences between these respiratory illnesses.
Experts recommend washing one’s hands as one of the best ways to prevent the spread of disease. The science on the importance of hand washing is a little…gross, but key to understanding why this is considered a preventative practice for all ages.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that, “handwashing can reduce the risk of respiratory infections by 16%” and there are other impressive statistics for non-respiratory and non-seasonal diseases too.
Another fact from the CDC: “More than 50% of healthy persons have Staphylococcus aureus living in or on their nasal passages, throats, hair, or skin.” While the CDC says that Staphylococcus aureus is usually harmless, it can lead to serious staph infections.
So, starting humming your ABCs and lather up with some warm water to keep the germs from spreading.
This Won’t Hurt a Bit
Influenza Vaccination Week occurs in December as a reminder for people to get a flu shot to help slow the spread of the flu, according to the CDC. “The best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated every year,” the CDC states, noting that a flu shot is recommended for everyone over the age of six months.
In addition, those at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease, as well as pregnant women and children under the age of five.
Contact your health care provider with specific questions about the flu and a vaccination.
There might be some jobs out there better suited to a specific age in life, but caregiving can—and is—done by people from all ages and stages of life.
It might be time to start thinking about being together again. Well-being is not just about exercise and nutrition, but also relationships and emotional sturdiness.
Too much caregiving without support can lead to burnout and other ailments for a family caregiver. Learn how to avoid injury, stress, and maintain well-being.