If you have elderly relatives, this time of year can be a worrying one. Colder temperatures and shorter hours of daylight mean your older parents or loved ones can be particularly vulnerable to certain conditions. This is especially true if they have mobility problems or struggle to remember to do things for themselves.
With flu season here, you'll want to make sure your elderly relatives are getting the care and support they need to stay fit and healthy during the colder months. So what can you do to help them?
The flu jab
Anyone over the age of 65 is entitled to a free flu jab, which can be quickly and easily administered from your local GP and some pharmacies now offer it as a service. It's also worth noting that people under this age who have experienced pneumonia or have asthma can get a flu vaccination free of charge as well as older people.
It may be a battle to get your elderly relative to the doctors for the flu jab but it's worth the hassle. Flu can be potentially very serious when older people contract it, as well as putting those around them - especially children - at risk too.
The flu vaccine is the best support you can give to your older loved ones. Although it doesn't protect 100% against influenza, if you do contract it after having the injection it will be much milder and shorter than if you hadn't had it.
Encourage healthy habits
Things you should do to stay healthy all year round are particularly important during flu season. Encourage your older relatives to eat regular healthy meals, stay as active as possible and practice good hygiene. All of these things make it more likely that the body will be able to fight off the influenza bug should they come into contact with it.
It's also worth bearing in mind that they may not feel as confident venturing out once the nights start drawing in and the weather causes ice. To help with this, ensure their freezer and cupboards are stocked with food whenever you visit so they don't have to go outside to get something to eat.
Some older people prefer to keep a handkerchief on them but encourage them to use tissues instead. Germs can stay on handkerchiefs while tissues can be disposed of quickly, reducing the chances of flu.
Keep them warm
Staying warm is an concern for anyone with elderly parents or relatives at this time of year, but it's especially important if you're worried about them getting flu. Make sure they have draft excluders and that rooms such as the bedroom and living room are kept warm. Keeping the home consistently warm is much better than suddenly adjusting the thermostat when it gets too cold. Ensuring their thermostat is set on a timer to come on at certain times of day is one of the best ways to ensure they are keeping warm throughout the day.
You should also check there's nothing blocking the main radiators or heat sources in the house and that they have easy access to any warm clothing or blankets should they need them and you're not there. If you're particularly concerned that the house isn't warm enough, call someone to come check their boiler. It may seem like a lot of hassle but older systems aren't as good as giving out heat, wasting money in the process. However, these are often neglected so it may be a sound idea to give them a nudge in the right direction.
This will not only reduce the risk of getting flu but many other weather-related illnesses such as stroke and pneumonia.
Flu season at Barchester
Throughout our care homes and nursing homes, our specialist staff ensure that all the needs of our clients are met. If you are concerned about your loved one during the colder months you can contact our team to help find the best care option for you.