Hi everyone. Not only are we dealing with the COVID19 pandemic, but flu season is upon us. Yikes! You may be wondering “Can seniors lower their risks of getting the flu?” Luckily, the answer is YES!! There are a number of ways. Read on…
According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), an average of five to 20% of the United States population contracts the flu. This costs the nation an average of $87 billion annually. These costs include flu-related illnesses and hospitalization. The senior population is especially vulnerable. Even though there are no 100% guarantees against contracting the flu, you can do your part to lower your risks.
Since many of us in the total knee replacement population are seniors, I believe this information is particularly vital.
On a personal note before I start: I can proudly state that I am 66, am on zero medications, and have not contracted the flu. Why and how? I believe sharing my insight can help you lower your risks. Here they are:
**Eat a healthy meal plan.**
You need to nourish your entire body, especially your immune system. The healthier your immune system is, the lower your risks of getting the flu.
As we age, our immune systems fight harder to fend off harmful attacks, according to the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information, a branch of the National Institute of Health).
Here are some things you can do:
- Eat plenty of fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables. The brighter the color, the more antioxidants.
- Prepare your own meals.
By doing this, you can control what ingredients actually go into your food. You will also limit the chances of contracting germs from an unhealthy food handling.
It is true that even though restaurants have healthy menu options, you still do not know all the ingredients (including preservatives) that go into the delicious food.
- Make some soup. Soup is comfort food. You will be treated to some warm, nourishing, and delicious food. Personally, I love preparing some fresh veggies, then putting them into a crockpot or large stockpot with plenty of water.
Add some spices, put on a cover, and viola! In a few hours I have a tasty delight that just cannot be beat!
Then, I separate cooked soup into airtight containers and freeze for future use. Nothing is easier and/or quick to keep my, or your, energy levels up on colder days/evenings.
**Keep Germs At Bay**
You need to be aware that harmful germs are everywhere around you and can negatively impact your health. Keep them at bay by doing the following:
- Thoroughly rinsing and drying fresh produce before using.
- Regularly cleaning your hands. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are important dos and don’ts you need to follow.
Before and after preparing and/or serving food
When putting in contact lenses
When dealing with sick people
After using the toilet
Touching an animal, its food, and feces
Use hand sanitizers containing less than 60% alcohol.
Rub your eyes, nose, and/or mouth without cleansing first.
Limit your chances of transferring bacteria, microbes, and viruses by using a proven hand cleansing technique. The Mayo Clinic states that hand washing is the most effective way to avoid spreading germs. Visit their website for a detailed cleansing description.
Keeping your home’s interior clean. There are a number of ways for you to accomplish this goal:
- Clean your doorknobs, computer mouse/keyboard, phone, faucet handles, and other places you regularly touch. Use a disinfectant.
- Clean your bathroom: shower curtain, tub, faucets, sink, toilet, seats, etc.
- Add a small amount of bleach when washing your clothes.
- Dry clothes thoroughly before wearing.
- Change your air filters. These are found in your kitchen, furnace, and air purification systems.
- Change your vacuum bag regularly.
- Thoroughly sanitize your cutting boards and utensils after using.
- Dust. Dust contains a wealth of airborne microbes that can play havoc on your health. Be sure to regularly dust your counter tops and other surfaces.
**Maintain An Ideal Weight.**
Being overweight leads to many poor health concerns, including increased risks for getting sick and contracting the flu. Stay healthy by maintaining a recommended BMI.
**Get up and move around.**
We all know that exercise is important to overall health. Exercise improves circulation, among so many other body functions. It is known for extending the aging process.
Exercise enhances the immune system by allowing your blood to freely move throughout your body – carrying vital nutrients where needed. It improves circulation, in other words. This is according to many studies, including one discussed in Harvard Health Publishing.
This is especially true for the aging and senior population. It does not matter what age you are, get out there and do it. There are so many fun and easy ways to incorporate exercise into your daily regime, start getting involved.
Here are some tips:
- Find an activity that you like. This increases your chances of sticking with it, according to the AARP.
- Start out slowly and gradually increase your intensity and duration levels.
- Alternate days between strength, balance, and flexibility training.
- Find a personal trainer who is knowledgeable about senior health, if desired. They are specialized and will work with your individual situation.
- Stay hydrated!!!! Dehydration leads to all kinds of health dilemmas. This applies even when swimming and/or doing water aerobics. Sip before you are thirsty.
- Take classes with friends. Some find support helpful and encouraging. With the pandemic in place, many fitness clubs offer online classes.
- Join your local Y. Many offer senior programs that can save you money, while offering socialization opportunities.
Start your own home exercise program. You may be surprised by the number of exercises you can do without using any expensive equipment. For instance, fill up a gallon jug with water and use it as a weight. Do wall pushups. Do chair yoga. Use resistance bands. Etc…
With so many options available, there is no excuse for you not to get up and move. It is a privilege to reach a point where you realize the importance and impact that exercise has on your body. Reach that point and be proud of yourself! You can do it!
Even your tkr recuperation exercises will help on many levels. Stay with it!
Consumer Reports highly recommends older adults get both a flu and pneumonia vaccine each year. According to Harvard University, the vaccinations significantly lower health risks for the senior population when compared to those choosing not to be vaccinated. Flu shots are covered by Medicare.
**Get a Wellness Check.**
Wellness Checks were implemented by the Affordable Health Care Act in an attempt to prevent chronic diseases and improve public health. They are free for Medicare recipients.
Yet, only about 15% of patients take advantage of this option, according to the AARP. So…what are you waiting for? Become proactive with your health and schedule an appointment today.
**Remember Your Mental Health.**
Your mindset play a key role in determining your overall health level. How many times have you seen and/or heard someone complaining about everything possible? These people usually end up aging faster than those with a positive,”can do” mindset.
I am so pleased that modern science has finally come to the conclusion that our mind and body are tied together. Harvard Medical Publishing has written a wonderful article about this.
Sure, everyone has days when things just don’t seem to go correctly. Let yourself have a good cry, if needed. It will do wonders. You are human, after all.
Here are some other useful ways for keeping a positive mindset and lowering your stress level:
- Brain training exercises. These are different than games meant to pass the time. Find a reputable source that is scientifically-backed to train your brain to healthier functioning.
- Writing. There is something magical about putting your thoughts into words on a paper..or blog. 🙂 Keep a journal.
- Meditation. For me, driving my car on an open road is a form of meditation. Find yours.
- Deep breathing exercises.
- Watch a comedy. Laughter is medicine. Certainly, you have heard this saying.
- Listen to music. Or, if you are lucky enough, play a musical instrument.
- Learn a new skill and/or talent. Be creative.
- Learn yoga. The Mayo Clinic recommends doing this.
In closing, always place your health first. It is the greatest asset you have. As seniors, we must do everything in our power to protect ourselves from the harmful effects of the flu. Start using a motto of: I WILL DO MY BEST TO STAY HEALTHY!!
Good luck! Let me know how you are benefiting from my insight and research.
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AUTHOR NOTE: Booktoots Healing helps total knee replacement patients find support throughout recuperation and beyond. Its mission is for patients to understand they are not alone in their ordeal with either a tkr or other physicality concerns.
This award-winning site is owned and operated by Marie Buckner, a published author, tkr blogger, and tkr patient who has been living with various health conditions for over 40+ years. She enjoys sharing her experiences to help others going through the same thing.
Marie is also a proud WEGO Health Patient Leader.