Senior woman in winter coat standing outside building in the sun.

What Seniors Need to Know to Stay Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

Winter is coming! That means seasonal dishes, quality time with family and friends and fabulous holiday parties. But you know what else is lurking around the corner? The common cold and flu. Even the most resilient and healthy older adult is at risk of getting sick during the holidays. Keep reading for what you need to know to stay healthy during the cold and flu season. 

When is Cold and Flu Season? 

The start of the dreaded cold and flu season can vary, but it usually begins in October and experiences a peak during December and February. Why do more of these illnesses occur during winter months? Colder weather forces more people to stay indoors and in close proximity to each other. This hastens the spread of viruses and other germs that can make you sick. 

How to Protect Yourself During Cold and Flu Season

Just because it’s cold and flu season does not mean you have to resign yourself to getting sick. There are preventative steps you can take to reduce your chances of falling ill. Here are five essential ways you can protect yourself during cold and flu season.

Wash Germs Away 

You touch thousands of surfaces a day, and these areas are a breeding ground for millions of bacteria and viruses. If you then rub your eyes, touch your face, nose, ears or mouth, these viruses gain easy entry into your body and make you sick.

Luckily, warm water and soap can remove germs and viruses from your hands to reduce your risk of catching the cold or flu. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Do a thorough scrub of your handsespecially between fingersto ensure all infectious germs are washed down the drain. If you don’t have access to water and soap, carry a pocket-sized sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol to keep your hands germ free.

Disinfect Surfaces

In addition to washing your hands, you can clean frequently touched surfaces like countertops, doorknobs, and cellphones. Use disinfecting wipes that are designed to kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses. 

Eat a Balanced Diet 

Eating a balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables that have nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin B6 can help your body stay healthy. Vitamin C can help boost your body’s immunity and lessen the severity of an illness. Foods that have vitamin C include oranges, grapefruits, kiwis, tomatoes, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage. 

When planning your next meal, think about how you can include these healthy foods in a side dish or entree. You are what you eat, so focus on eating healthy! 

Dress Appropriately

While unnecessary exposure to cold weather alone doesn’t cause the cold or flu, it can subject you to the risk of frostbite or hypothermia, which can weaken your immune system. Protect your hands and feet with thick gloves and socks and always ensure you pack appropriately for any winter travel.  

  • Dress in layers. Wear undershirts, long sleeve t-shirts and thermals to add multiple layers of warmth to your body.  
  • Cover your head, ears and neck, hands and feet. Beanies, earmuffs, scarves, gloves, mittens and socks will keep these parts of your body warm.
  • Wear the right kind of shoes. Avoid open-toed shoes that can expose your feet to the cold.  

Stay Active

Regularly exercising helps you stay physically and mentally healthy. It also boosts your immune system. According to David C. Nieman, Director of the Appalachian State University Human Performance Lab at the North Carolina Research Campus, “people who exercise 30 to 45 minutes a day experience a 40% to 50% reduction in the number of days they get sick.” So if you want to stay healthy, get up and start moving!     

Explore Health Resources at Abbey Delray

At Abbey Delray, our residents’ health is our first priority. From on-site health services to friendly and knowledgeable medical team members who serve our community, we have many amenities and services that keep our residents healthy. Contact us to learn more about the benefits of health services at Abbey Delray.