Chances are you've received more than your share of tips and lectures on protecting yourself during cold and flu seasons. And there's a good reason for the abundance of information being shared by health care providers and others. Influenza is serious business for anyone, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seniors age 65 and up are at greater risk of developing life-threatening complications if they do get the flu.
The lesson here isn't to hunker down in your assisted living apartment for the season to avoid germs, however. We love that the residents of Autumn View Gardens live such vibrant, active lives, and we want you to continue enjoying activities within the community and outings into Ellisville and the greater metro area. You can do so even when flu and cold bugs are flying by following some of the tips below.
We know you've heard it before, but they're important enough to be repeated. First, get your flu vaccination as recommended by your health care provider. It's your first — and biggest — line of defense against influenza.
Second, wash your hands regularly. A quick slip of the palms under running water doesn't get the job done. Invest in some soap your hands love and wash for at least 20 seconds under warm running water.
Germs don't just congregate where sinks and soap are available, so carry a favorite hand sanitizer with you to keep hands clean between washings. Most drug, department and grocery stores sell a variety of hand sanitizers, and you may be able to ask the staff at Autumn View Gardens assisted living to help you procure a product that's right for you.
Seniors who are sensitive to certain ingredients or prefer to go organic or all-natural might consider hand sanitizing wipes and sprays from brands such as EO and Everyone. You can find these products in stores such as Walmart as well as online.
Dust masks are cloth masks that help ward off certain particles from entering your body when you breath. You can make them easily from a t-shirt or sew one with fabric that speaks to your personal style. Homemade masks provide a little protection, though you should make sure to wash them regularly to keep germs from building up in the fabric.
However, if you want better protection against airborne germs — especially if you're going to spend time in public areas, such as stores or health care offices, you may want to invest in disposable medical face masks. You can find inexpensive options at drug stores or via online retailers such as Amazon.
You can't always ward off the cold or flu, though. Sometimes the best defense is ensuring that your body is as healthy as possible so it has the capability to fight off germs once they enter your system. Eating right, getting enough exercise and sleep, and seeing your medical provider as needed to manage your health and wellness are all important.
You can't predict whether you'll be the one to catch a cold or flu this year. But you can enjoy life in your assisted living community while taking better care of yourself to give your body the best fighting chance.
Bethesda Foundaion is not associated with the Bethesda Health Group of St. Louis, MO.