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5 Tips for Preparing Your Aging Parent for Flu Season

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While the flu can simply mean a minor inconvenience for some people, it can be life-threatening for senior citizens. It’s especially dangerous for seniors who have preexisting medical conditions or suppressed immune function. Fortunately, several interventions can help your senior loved one dodge a bout of the flu, and if he or she does get the flu, symptoms may be milder. Here are 5 ways to help your parent get ready for flu season.

1. Vaccinate

One of the most important things you can do to prepare your senior loved one for flu season is to make sure he or she has been vaccinated against the influenza virus. Vaccinating against influenza may not guarantee your loved one won’t get the viral infection, but it can offer some protection. If your loved one gets vaccinated and does get the flu, chances are it will be milder and recovery will be faster.

2. Consider Supplements

If your loved one has poor nutritional intake or is often sick, dietary supplements such as vitamin C and zinc may prevent the flu. While supplements can boost immunity, you should always talk to your loved one’s physician to make sure taking them will not interact negatively with the medications your loved one is taking.

3. Serve Soup

Soup isn’t heavy on the stomach, and it may ease nasal congestion, coughing, and a sore throat. Influenza can lead to poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, so it’s best not to encourage the consumption of heavy foods during the first few days. Eating spicy, greasy, or sugary foods may lead to vomiting and diarrhea, which can raise the risk of severe dehydration. 

If your loved one does end up with a bad case of the flu, he or she may not be able get enough water, eat the right foods, or accomplish basic tasks without assistance. Performing daily tasks while simultaneously managing the symptoms of a serious illness can be challenging for seniors. The Fort Worth live-in care experts at Home Care Assistance are available 24/7 to make sure your loved one has the care he or she needs to remain safe and comfortable while aging in place.

4. Manage Stress

Stress can raise levels of cortisol, and when cortisol is too high, immunity may be suppressed, which can raise the risk of contracting viral and bacterial infections. Explain the benefits of stress management to your loved one. If he or she has cognitive deficits, you can help by keeping a peaceful environment and making sure his or her needs are met. Making sure your loved one gets plenty of rest and mild exercise can lower stress levels, as will ensuring he or she stays well hydrated and eats nutritious foods.

It’s also important for family members to manage their stress levels so they can stay healthy for their loved ones. Family caregivers sometimes need a break from their caregiving responsibilities. When they need respite care, Fort Worth families can rely on professional caregivers to help their senior loved ones remain safe at home.

5. Keep the Medicine Cabinet Stocked

If your parent gets the flu, he or she may feel comforted knowing the medicine cabinet is well stocked with over-the-counter pain and fever reducers, cough medicine, mentholated vapor rub, throat lozenges, and a vaporizer. While these interventions may not make the flu go away any faster, they may bring about symptomatic relief so your loved one can rest better and feel more comfortable. Before advising your parent to take medications for the flu, check with the doctor to make sure they’re not contraindicated for use with your parent’s current medications.

Making sure your loved one stays healthy is always a top concern, especially during cold and flu season. If you’re the primary family caregiver for an elderly loved one and need additional assistance providing high-quality home care, Fort Worth Home Care Assistance can help. We are a leading home care agency committed to changing the way seniors age. To talk to one of our Care Managers, call (817) 349-7599 today.