Having the flu is bad enough at any age, but for the elderly, getting sick can be a very serious matter. Even a mild case of the flu can easily turn into pneumonia for elderly patients, and that can quickly turn into a life-threatening situation.
Whether you are caring for an elderly loved one in your home or just trying to keep them happy and healthy, it is important to take a proactive approach to flu season. While getting an annual flu shot and having regular physicals is a good start, those are not the only things you can do to protect your loved one from the discomfort – and the danger – of getting the flu.
The Importance of Eating Right
You already know that eating a healthy diet is important, but the importance of diet increases with age. While young people can survive and even thrive on a diet of greasy hamburgers and French fries, the same diet could leave a senior citizen dangerously undernourished and at risk of illness.
Eating a healthy diet is important for your elderly loved one, and you can help them even more by incorporating so-called superfoods into the meals you make each day. Foods like kale, berries, broccoli, avocados and some mushrooms really pack a nutritional punch. Learning to cook with these super-healthy ingredients is a great way to improve the health of your elderly loved one – and your own family.
Drink Plenty of Water
Dehydration is a problem with many seniors, but you can fight back by making sure your loved one drinks plenty of water. If the person you are caring for has problems with mobility, something as simple as keeping a water bottle within arm’s reach can increase fluid consumption and improve health.
You can also substitute water for sugary soft drinks and caffeine-laden coffee at mealtimes. Drinks containing caffeine can be particularly problematic, since excessive caffeine consumption increases urine production and can make dehydration worse.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Many seniors think that sleeping less is normal as they age, but that is not the case. Sleep is just as important for older people as it is for men and women in the prime of life.
If your loved one is not getting enough sleep, a few changes in their sleep routine could make a big difference. Turning off the TV an hour before bedtime and avoiding caffeine consumption in the evening can help a lot, as can establishing a regular bedtime for everyone in the family.
Supplement Your Diet
While a healthy diet is one of the best ways to fight the flu, vitamins and herbal supplements can boost the immune system and make getting sick less likely. Vitamins, especially antioxidants like vitamin C, can improve immune system function and make you less vulnerable to catching the flu.
Herbal supplements like Echinacea, ginseng and probiotics have a role to play as well. Including these supplements in your loved one’s diet can help their immune system work more efficiently and keep the flu at bay.
No matter what your age, getting out and staying active is an important part of good health. Regular exercise can improve your health and the health of your elderly loved one by boosting the immune system – thus reducing the risk of illness.
Exercise is something you and your elderly loved one can do together. Whether you join a gym or just take a stroll around the neighborhood, the whole family can enjoy the benefits of good health – now and when the annual flu season rolls around.
Helping an elderly loved one be prepared before the flu season gets out of hand can go a long way. Their immune systems may not be as strong as the younger generations in the family and preparations should be taken to ensure they stay healthy. Use these tips to help keep your elderly loved ones happy and healthy all year round.