For those 65+: Helpful tips on preventing the flu and other infections
No one likes catching the flu
In many cases having the flu means spending a few days in bed. However, for some, catching the flu leads to serious consequences, even death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection, around 50,000 Americans die from the influenza virus each year. Many of these are people 65+ years of age, whose weakened immune systems have problems coping with an infection like the flu. Older people need to protect themselves from the flu virus more than others.
But the flu is not the only danger. People 65+ are more susceptible to harmful infections, and the results are often fatal. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, one-third of all deaths in the US are caused by infectious diseases, while nine out of every 10 pneumonia-related deaths in the nation are of folks 65 years of age or older. Infections are not more deadly to the elderly only because they tend to have weakened immune systems, but also because their skin is frailer. “The integrity of the skin declines with age, which allows easier entry of pathogens into the skin,” explained Dr. Noah Scheinfeld, dermatologist.
Parent Giving, a leading senior care resource, are well aware of the danger that infections pose to the elderly. They warn that older people must be most concerned about bacterial pneumonia, influenza, urinary tract infections, and skin infections such as shingles, herpes zoster, and staph.
Protecting Senior Citizens from Infections
The good news is that infections, even fatal ones, can be prevented. For successful prevention of infections, a few precautionary steps have to be taken. There is plenty that people 65+, their caretakers and loved ones can do to help those most at risk stay safe.
The first step toward prevention is vaccination. To avoid infection, people 65+ simply must get the shots their health care providers recommend. At the very least, this will be a yearly flu vaccination. Every year, a new type of virus brings a new type of flu. Due to some bad outbreaks in recent years, large amounts of vaccine are available nationwide before the flu season starts. You can get a “flu shot” where you buy your prescription drugs, or if you buy medications online, a major drugstore. Medicare will pay for one flu shot per year. A qualified healthcare provider can recommend where to get a flu shot.
Everyone needs to keep their hands clean by using hand sanitizer or soap and water. Germs can survive on surfaces for a long time. Outside the home, door handles, counters, credit/debit card keypads, any surface that people touch can receive a fresh supply of germs on a constant basis. One of the greatest sources of infections are hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes. When out in public, carrying a hand sanitizer can be useful, but nothing is more effective than washing hands with soap and water. And make sure you wash your hands the right way. Take the time to wash between your fingers—sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice while you are washing and you know you’ve done a good job. If you don’t have sanitizer and there is no place to wash your hands, try to not touch your mouth, nose or eyes until you get home.
Keeping your hands clean is not enough. Those items that people touch regularly, like the steering wheel on a car, should be sanitized with a spray. Those 65+ who are able to walk on their own should sanitize the soles of their shoes (or remove their shoes) before they enter the home. Users of mobility devices such as walkers can also use sanitizer to keep them clean.
The EZGO™ walker ball can help. The EZGO is made from GermBLOCK™, which stops the growth of viruses, bacteria, fungi and other harmful germs. Why is that important? As it is made from antimicrobial material, there is less worry about germs when you touch it. Touching the EZGO while taking it on and off means less worry. Since it is easy to put on and take off, you’ll be removing your EZGO walker balls when you leave the house, and slip them back on when you return. You can keep another pair in the car for use while shopping or running errands. You should worry about touching a tennis ball on the end of your walker, as a tennis ball offers a perfect haven for germs.
Using EZGO walker balls on your walker means one less thing to worry about when it comes to risk of infection from harmful germs.