No one enjoys feeling ill and under the weather. As we get older, it becomes increasingly important that we take preventative measures to keep ourselves and our loved ones healthy. Older adults tend to generally have weaker immune systems, making them more susceptible to catching a virus or bacterial illness. The same can be said for caregivers – as their immune system may be weakened due to being on high alert and under chronic stress when caring for their patients.
However, there are ways to prevent the spread of illness in a care home.
As cold and flu are two of the most common illnesses experienced in the winter season, we’ve put together our favourite tips to help you and your loved ones stay healthy.
So, how do you prevent cold and flu in care homes? Read on to find out:
GOOD HYGIENE IS KEY
Let’s start with a common tip – good hygiene. This is important year-round, but especially so in the winter months. Showering frequently and making sure your body is clean will help to prevent cold and flu related illnesses – but more than anything, you should make sure you are continually washing your hands throughout the day.
Washing your hands before you eat, prep food or touch your eyes, mouth or nose can dramatically reduce your exposure to viruses and bacterial infections. The easiest way that germs enter the body is through our eyes, nose and mouth. Many people contact these parts of the body with their hands throughout the day much more than you would think.
Because of this, ensuring your hands are clean is essential.
TIP: If you do not have ready access to a sink and soap, carry antibacterial wipes or alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you to stay clean on the go.
Going hand in hand with good hygiene – another way to best prevent flu in the winter months is to visit your GP for a flu vaccine. A yearly jab can help you to fight the virus and help you to stay healthy.
One thing to note, you shouldn’t get a flu vaccine if you are allergic to the vaccine or its ingredients, or if you’ve had a severe reaction to the jab in the past.
EAT THE RAINBOW
No, unfortunately we’re not referring to Skittles here. Instead, we’re referring to balancing your plate with plenty of colourful fruit and veg to supplement a healthy diet. Green vegetables specifically help to support a healthy immune system and balanced diet. They are known to boost cell-surface proteins in the body, which are necessary for proper immune system function.
SUPPLEMENT (IF NEEDED)
As always, before adding any supplements to you or your loved one’s diet, you should always consult your doctor or a nutritionist. However, if supplementing your diet is of interest and has the support of your GP, there are a few that have been known to boost immunity in the colder months.
Vitamin D supports bone and cardiovascular health, as well as a healthy immune system. If you’d like to add more Vitamin D by way of a supplement, looking for supplements with D3 (cholecalciferol) are preferable – as it is known to have a better effect at rising levels of Vitamin D in the blood.
If you would rather not go the supplement route, some foods that are known to have desirable quantities of vitamin D are egg yolks, mushrooms, tinned tuna or salmon.
Vitamin C has been a well-relied on source of immunity-boosting antioxidants for years, and for good reason. Be careful not to have too much, a 200mg supplement is a standard recommendation, as it could make your tummy slightly upset.
Other ways to add Vitamin C into your diet is through eating fruits such as oranges, kiwi, lemons or strawberries. Vegetables that also contain this massively beneficial nutrient include cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts and capsicums.
Zinc is a micronutrient that is naturally found in various meats, nuts and many other foods. It can drastically improve inflammatory skin conditions and help improve a weakened immune system. Some healthcare providers will recommend taking a supplement if you are not getting enough of this nutrient in your diet.
A study done in 2017 suggested that taking zinc supplements could potentially reduce the duration of the common cold by nearly 35%.
Keeping active, both physically and socially is a great way to boost your spirits as well as your immunity. Physical activity has the potential to reduce inflammation and chronic disease. It can also reduce stress and levels of stress hormones within the body. This, in turn, will accelerate the circulation of disease and illness-fighting white blood cells, which can prevent cold and flu from taking hold.
Staying socially active is an equally important. Many studies have been done on the effects of loneliness and the effects it has. Poor health and social isolation have long been seen to be connected. Socialising with friends and your community can drastically lower your stress levels which can have a positive effect on your immunity and overall health.
GIVE IT A REST!
Staying properly rested is important for both fighting off and preventing illnesses. It helps your body rest and recharge. As you sleep, your body releases cytokines; cytokines are a type of protein that helps to regulate your immune system.
KEEP YOUR COOL
Have you ever tried yoga or meditation? Calming practices such as these can have potentially magnificent effects on your health all year – but especially in helping to prevent cold and flu in the colder months.
Meditation can help you de-stress and calm your mind. If your body is constantly releasing cortisol, a primary stress hormone, it lessens its effectiveness to fight inflammation and illness.
Staying healthy year-round can sometimes be a challenge, however, there are always steps you can take to boost your immunity.
If you have any questions or queries please contact the Hollies directly on 01453 541400 or firstname.lastname@example.org