Every year, millions of people fall ill during cold and flu season, and seniors are especially at risk. Seniors are nearly five times more likely than any other age group to be hospitalized during a bout of the flu. This increased risk is due to a number of factors, including diminished immune system response and a greater prevalence of comorbidities. The same factors that lead to increased cold and flu transmission this time of year also contribute to a rise in COVID-19 infections. To mitigate your risk, or the risk of someone you love, try following these simple guidelines.
Follow Good Health Habits
Residents at Oak Trace can speak to the power of a lifestyle focused on whole-person wellness. Being in good physical and mental health can reduce stress and strengthen the immune system. Exercise moderately throughout the week as advised by a health professional, stay hydrated, get at least eight hours of sleep per night and maintain a nutrient-dense diet. This will give your body its best chance at avoiding cold and flu or bouncing back if you fall ill.
Keep Vaccines Up to Date
Vaccines are an essential line of defense against the worst that cold and flu season have to offer. If you haven’t yet, make sure to schedule your annual flu shot as well as any COVID-19 vaccine boosters available. The CDC recommends all eligible people ages 16 and older stay up to date on available COVID-19 vaccine boosters for maximum protection. For people 65 and older, timing your flu shot right can also help increase its effectiveness. The CDC recommends waiting until after August each year to receive your flu shot, if possible. However, they note that receiving the flu vaccine early is better than not receiving it at all.
Know Your Risk Factors
Staying healthy throughout cold and flu season is as much about mitigating risk as it is equipping yourself with the tools you need to recover quickly. Understanding your risk factors is key to knowing how either virus might affect you. All seniors ages 65 and older are considered a much higher risk category for serious cold and flu symptoms. Seniors are also at higher risk for greater complications, like developing pneumonia.
If you have a history of respiratory conditions or other chronic conditions or risk factors, work with your doctor to understand what to look for. While you may be able to weather a cold at home, be aware of potential signs that it may be something more severe, like the flu.
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
Keep close contact with your doctor if you develop any of these symptoms or if you have any symptoms that last longer than a few days.
Stay Close to Home
Cold and flu season share significant overlap with the holiday season, which can make planning travel difficult. While you should feel free to enjoy holiday celebrations with loved ones, avoiding long-distance travel or air travel is prudent for cold and flu avoidance. If you must travel by plane for a holiday gathering, wear a mask and plan to monitor potential symptoms more closely for a period of time before and after your travels. Maintain excellent hygiene during your travel by washing your hands frequently and carrying hand sanitizer.
Make Your Wellness a Priority at Oak Trace
Whatever this cold and flu season brings for you, managing your health and enjoying the holidays is easier at Oak Trace. Each of our residents have access to a robust wellness program that is personalized to their needs and future health goals. Together, we create a plan focused on nurturing multidimensional wellness. Putting that plan into action is simple with our healthy and delicious dining options, multitude of amenities including our LifeBio program, arts and crafts classes, a full social calendar and more. Ready to see what a healthy and fulfilling life at Oak Trace can look like for you? Schedule a tour today.