What can seniors do to protect themselves from seasonal ailments, like the flu, while maintaining an enjoyable lifestyle?

The airwaves are bombarded with what feels like almost too much information.

Staying up with current information is helpful for sure, yet it’s the tried and true habits which may make the most difference in maintaining health for seniors during this flu season.

There is no doubt that seniors are possibly more at risk. Yet it is vital to remember to stay calm and enjoy life – this approach will strengthen the immune system as well as life in general.

Hygiene Habits to Avoid Spreading the Flu

These hygiene practices help slow down a flu outbreak or any kind of contagion:

Disinfect surfaces

Disinfect cabinets and countertops with chlorine cleaners or disinfectant cleaners, as well as sanitizing phones, controls, and door handles.

Enhance laundry habits

Clean hands after touching dirty clothes and before handling clean clothes.

Handle trash carefully

Avoid touching trash, especially tissues, and wash afterward anyway.

Cover nose and mouth 

Cover nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing with tissue or elbow. Wash up thoroughly when using your hands. Politely walk away from others coughing.

Wash hands better than usual

Update your hand cleaning skills by doing the “Birthday Wash” where you sing or hum the happy birthday song once or twice while washing.

You may have another song you enjoy; use this time to slow down, sing, scrub, sing, smile.

CDC says 80% of infections are transmitted by hands! Use hand sanitizer when washing isn’t possible, but don’t give up hand washing in favor of sanitizers.

Handwashing is the ultimate habit which will protect you.

Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth! 

Here’s where old habits may defeat you. Concentrate on using a tissue when you must scratch your nose, etc. I always say, “Avoid the holes in your head.”

Get your flu shots! 

Since flu usually reawakens in the fall, put it on the calendar now to get a flu shot as soon as it is available.

It is a fact that other flu types kill many seniors yearly, so stay on the ball with vaccinations, including discussing pneumonia shots with a doctor.

We all know vaccine doesn’t protect against everything, but some protection is better than none!

Plan and prepare 

Plan and prepare as you might for hurricane season, keeping water, batteries, non-perishable food on hand as people always should anyway. Don’t forget garbage bags and facial tissues.

Go about your normal life

Go about your normal life but be more mindful of above precautions.

Social Distance for Older Adults during Flu Season

Most older adults have social connections which are quite important to them.

This is a good time to explore ways to maintain social contacts by phone or online while keeping a little more social distance, especially from crowds.

Stay home when you have symptoms

Call the doctor with any questions. The doctor may advise a wait and see, or an appointment.

Patients may be asked to wear a mask. Be encouraging of friends about similar decisions.

Limit exposure to large group situations

Limit exposure to large group situations and observe the 6-foot rule, staying approximately six feet away from anyone with symptoms. (Some distance is advised in any case since infected people can be contagious a day before they exhibit symptoms.

Avoid close contact

Even when in the public remember to keep vigilant about social distance. Instead of a handshake, use a fist bump. Avoid hugs by a pat on the back.

Use your telephone more

This is a fine time to call and check on a friend, or just to visit.

Such contacts help compensate for the loneliness which accompanies choosing to temporarily be more isolated.

Buy gasoline with a card at the pump 

Avoid paying with cash.

Stay away from coughing people

Put several feet of distance between you and people who are coughing.

Seniors Can Improve General Health Habits

What a fine time to give thanks for all that is new and modern in medicine, including antiviral drugs.

Don’t be afraid to try these if a doctor recommends, as well as the tried and tested habits above.

Some seniors who are at risk will be advised to take Tamiflu or Relenza.

These can help prevent flu, as well as keep any flu symptoms milder and hasten recovery time along with getting the flu shot. However, they will not substitute for handwashing and other general precautions listed herein.

It is asking a lot of older adults to change lifelong habits, yet this situation may require just that.

Do not steer into the myth that is often heard, “If it hasn’t gotten me yet, it probably won’t.”

Seniors who are willing to consider themselves at risk are more inclined to embrace appropriate safety measures while continuing to enjoy life.

It helps to remember that this is temporary, yet the improvement of habits may be a really fine permanent change to an already healthy lifestyle.

There is much that seniors can do to protect themselves from the Influenza Type A (Swine Flu) or other contagious elements.

Temporary social distancing may be in order while health habits can be improved for the long term.

Most of all, be prepared yet continue to enjoy a calm and pleasant life.


Everything herein is informational only, and not to be construed as medical advice or a substitute for consultation with a medical professional.

The Centers for Disease Control is providing regular updates. The CDC was a source for much of the above information.

Request a Papa Pal

There would be a great advantage to utilizing a Papa Pal to help secure adequate provisions in case you need a few days of relative inactivity for recuperation.

They can be found at Papa.com and may be used to help with shopping, transportation, or even companionship, which we all know boosts your immunity!

Might as well enjoy the tasks involved in warding off the flu while preparing for possible times of being under the weather.

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