How to reduce risk of catching flu

Since flu activity is rising across the United States and there's been a slight uptick in the number of deaths, the SYNERGY HomeCare Flu Fighters are in full effect.

Weaker immune systems make seniors more vulnerable to the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 90 percent of all flu-related deaths and more than half of flu-related hospitalizations occur in people age 65 or older.

SYNERGY HomeCare, one of the nation’s largest in-home care companies, already helps clients fight the flu by helping sanitize seniors’ homes and run errands for seniors (i.e. grocery store) so they’re not exposed to the flu, take seniors to get their flu shot and care for seniors and take them to the doctor if they have the flu. Now SYNERGY HomeCare wants all seniors in the area to have a fighting chance at avoiding the flu. The advice, while aimed at seniors, can apply to anyone!

The experts at the local SYNERGY HomeCare reveal how seniors can create a Flu Fighter kit with a few simple items.

• Paper towels – encourage seniors to use paper towels in the bathroom instead of hand towels, which can harbor germs.

• Thermoscan or Digital thermometer – if seniors have a fever higher than 102 degrees, that could indicate they have the flu.

• Vitamin C or little boxes of orange juice – helps build seniors’ weaker immune systems.

• Lysol spray – reminder for seniors to spray doorknobs, handles, and light switches, etc... at least once a week – viruses can live up to 48 hours on plastic and stainless steel surfaces.

• Hand soap - recent studies show plain soap and water works just as well, if not better, than antibacterial soaps.

• Hand sanitizer/ Sanitizing wipes – these are handy to have on-the-go, whether to clean hands or public surfaces. Don’t rely on just baby wipes because they do not contain the proper ingredients to kill viruses and germs.

Flu Fighting Tips

Get the flu shot. It free and covered by Medicare. People 65 and older have two flu shots available to choose from – a regular dose vaccine and a newer higher dose flu vaccine that results in a stronger immune response. Seniors should talk to their doctors to see if they’re a good fit for this vaccine.

Shorten the duration of symptoms by getting an anti-viral medication within 48 hours.

Avoid certain public places

Public restrooms – especially the sink because bacteria can survive there the longest – (Source: University of Arizona study)

The mall – mainly the food court tables – the rags used to “clean” can spread harmful bacteria – they can contain E. coli because they are not cleaned or changed regularly – (Source: Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University)

Grocery stores – this is where many people go when they are sick, whether to get some juice, chicken noodle soup or medicine.

Grocery cart handles - About 70 percent to 80 percent of the shopping carts tested nationwide had E. coli, says Charles Gerba, Ph.D., a University of Arizona.

Restaurants – one of the dirtiest areas is the table top due to the “clean” rag used to wipe them down. (Source: Lifescript)

Libraries – some of the dirtiest areas are the books, computers and table tops, just from the many people who touch them each day. (Source: Lifescript)

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