For many of us, flu prevention begins and ends with getting our annual influenza vaccine. That is the best way to prevent the flu, but as we head into the busy holiday season—a time that often coincides with an increase in flu activity—it’s good to know there are other precautions you can also take to protect yourself.
4 Tips to Help Seniors Stay Healthy During the Holidays
Holiday gatherings are a time of sharing and celebrating. Unfortunately, that sharing can sometimes include the flu virus. If you’ve already had your flu shot, you are off to a great start. But there is still more you can do to guard against the virus:
- Eat a plant-rich diet: A diet that consists of vegetables, fruit, and whole grains helps to increase your intake of antioxidants and phytonutrients. Most people know antioxidants are good for the immune system, and phytonutrients are, too. Both groups are linked to stronger immunity and faster healing. During the holiday season when you are extra busy, make sure your diet includes foods like broccoli, oranges, leafy greens, blueberries, grapes, oats, quinoa, and barley.
- Stay hydrated: This might seem like a strange addition to a list of flu prevention tips, but it’s a necessary one. Winter weather typically means drier air. Researchers say staying hydrated may prevent mucous membranes in the nose from getting dry. That’s key because tiny cracks that occur in mucous membranes when we are dehydrated give viruses and bacteria a place to enter the body more easily.
- Get your rest: Sleep helps to keep the immune system strong. When your immunity is higher, your body is better able to fight off viruses. During the holidays when we are surrounded by so many people, being well-rested may help you avoid the flu bug.
- Avoid hugs and handshakes: This one can be tough to do during holiday gatherings. But hugs and handshakes can increase your risk for being exposed to the flu virus. You might want to offer a quick explanation that you are afraid you might be coming down with a cold and don’t want to risk exposing others. Offer a big smile and wave instead. Also, make sure you wash your hands with warm water and soap after you’ve been around crowds (in addition to your regular washing habits).
More about Flu Shots
We know there are many misunderstandings that can keep older adults from getting their flu shot. If you or an older adult in your life is resisting, our article, “Busting the 5 most common myths about flu shots” will help separate fact from fiction when it comes to the vaccine.
Source: Sunrise Senior Living