Senior man receiving a flu shot

What Seniors Need to Know to Stay Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

The fall and winter seasons are often associated with runny noses, coughing and other common cold and flu symptoms. Fortunately, you don’t have to resign yourself to getting sick. Here are some tips for seniors to stay healthy this year. While there’s no guarantee you won’t fall ill, these strategies can help minimize your chances of coming down with a bug.

When is Flu Season?

While flu viruses circulate year round, the CDC officially considers the fall and winter months to be peak flu season. Of the winter months, February most often sees the highest number of flu cases, but cases may also peak earlier or later in a given year. 

Influenza isn’t the only respiratory virus seniors need to worry about during flu season. Rhinovirus, one of the causes of “common” colds, is also prevalent during this time of year. Potentially more dangerous, however, is Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). Though commonly associated with young children, RSV is a leading cause of death from respiratory illness in adults 65 and older. COVID-19 also tends to surge during this time of year as well. 

Tips to Stay Healthy This Cold and Flu Season

While there’s no surefire way to completely prevent getting sick with a cold or the flu, there are ways you can minimize your risks. Here are some of the easiest steps you can take to stay healthy.

Get Vaccinated

The most effective way to reduce your chances of contracting the flu is to get your yearly flu shot. Flu vaccines are updated annually to better match the predicted strains of the flu virus in circulation. Additionally, decreasing immunity each year necessitates an annual booster. This is particularly true for older adults who experience a decline in protection more quickly.

Practice Good Hygiene

Behavioral changes can also reduce your risk of contracting the flu. This includes washing your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds to eliminate germs and viruses. Hand sanitizer with an alcohol content of at least 60% can also be used to prevent infections.

Along with frequent hand washing, avoid touching areas of the face like the eyes, nose and mouth. Cold and flu viruses commonly enter the body in this way, and minimizing face touching can reduce the risk of illness.

Finally, you may want to consider avoiding crowded places or unnecessary travel. Not everyone practices good hygiene, and large concentrations of people can spread bacteria and viruses, leading to illness. Use your best judgment or consult your doctor to determine if you may be at a higher risk.

Prioritize Healthy Activities

To stay healthy, you want to ensure your immune system is operating optimally. One of the best ways to do this is by practicing healthy habits like proper nutrition and hydration, getting enough sleep at night and exercising regularly.

Exercise is a particularly effective way to boost your immune system. As an added benefit, balance exercises and similar physical activities can improve your quality of life beyond avoiding illness, making them an even more important part of your daily routine.

Find More Wellness Resources at Edgemere

Wellness is about more than just avoiding getting sick, and nowhere is that more apparent than at an engaged and connected senior community like Edgemere. Here, we support our neighbors in their pursuit of personal wellness. From physical health to emotional and intellectual stimulation, our community can help you get the most out of your retirement years.

Ready to see Edgemere for yourself? We’d love to host you for a visit. Contact us to schedule a tour or to speak with a member of our team to answer any questions you may have. Or, fill out the form below and a team member will be in touch shortly!